The John Collier Jr. Award for Still Photography is awarded periodically to a photographer whose work exemplifies the use of photography for research and communication of anthropological knowledge.
Call for submissions for 2014 competition: 2014-sva-collier-web-news
John Collier Jr Award For Excellence In Visual Anthropology 2013
Refracted Visions: Popular Photography and National Modernity in Java by Karen Strassler (2010: Duke University Press) was chosen for the 2013 John Collier Jr Award by majority committee vote based on its contributions to the field of Visual Anthropology. The academic text includes 138 images, both archival and contemporary. Research questions included provocative questions about who makes photos and has access to technologies: how these relate to cultural identity and how that identity is presented visually; and used both politically and socially in Javanese culture as well as by other sub-cultures living in Java. The author worked with photos as cultural products, identity, history, and addressed issues about how memory is maintained as well as its creation. The Committee judged this work to be in the Colliers legacy of how to “read” cultural information from still photography and found it to be the most valuable submission to the field of Visual Anthropology.
2012 Winner: Moving Images: John Layard, Fieldwork, and Photography on Malakula since 1914. Haidy Geismar and Anita Herle. (2011: University of Hawaii Press)
In 1914–1915, Cambridge anthropologist John Layard worked in Malakula, New Hebrides (Vanuatu). This was one of the earliest periods of solitary, intensive fieldwork within the developing discipline of British social anthropology. Based on Layard’s copious notes and photographs, this book contains over 300 of these evocative images, most previously unpublished and presented here for the first time with Layard’s field notes and captions. They provide an extraordinary record of the elaborate ritual and culture of small Islanders and reveal photography’s role as an evidential and subjective medium vital to the practice of social anthropology. Layard’s photographs have played a crucial role in forming ideas about culture and society, both in Vanuatu and within anthropology. His writings and images have recently been used by ni-Vanuatu as records of traditional life and to encourage cultural revitalization. Moving Images fully explores the resonance of Layard’s images in the intellectual history of anthropology and illuminates the social history of the discipline as a cross-cultural enterprise that connects Western scholarship to indigenous interests in the encounter of fieldwork.
2012 Honorable Mention Award: Arapaho Journeys: Photographs and Stories from The Wind River Reservation. Sara Wiles (2011: University of Oklahoma Press)
In what is now Colorado and Wyoming, the Northern Arapahos thrived for centuries, connected by strong spirituality and kinship and community structures that allowed them to survive in the rugged environment. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, as Anglo-Americans pushed west, Northern Arapaho life changed dramatically. Although forced to relocate to a reservation, the people endured and held on to their traditions. Today, tribal members preserve the integrity of a society that still fosters living ni iihi , as they call it, “in a good way.” Sara Wiles captures that life in Arapaho Journeys, an inside look at thirty years of Northern Arapaho life on the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming. Through more than 100 images and 40 essays, Wiles documents people at Wind River by weaving together essays on tribal history, personal narratives, and traditional knowledge and little-known aspects of Arapaho history and culture, including naming ceremonies and cultural revitalization efforts. This work broaches controversial topics, as well, including the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians. This book is a journey through word and photos into Northern Arapaho’s history, culture, and lived experience.
2008 Winner: Joanna Cohan Scherer for A Danish Photographer of Idaho Indians: Benedicte Wrenstead (2006).
Joanna Scherer has worked for many years as a photography expert on North American Indigenous images. Much of her labor contributed to the Handbook of North American Indians, an enormous and invaluable scholarly resource. This book is about a late 19th century woman portrait photographer from Denmark who migrated to the small town of Pocatello Idaho and set up a store- front studio. There she made images of people who lived in the town and its environs, many of whom were Shoshone- Bannock Indians. Scherer’s engaging prose and Wrensted’s luminous and well reproduced photographs appeal to both scholarly and general readers. Students of Native American cultures and documentary photography will appreciate the several ways in which the book makes contributions to both areas. Scholars and practitioners in visual anthropology will learn from the author’s careful study of historical context, micro- analysis of imagery and design, and deft use of the photo elicitation technique in her interviews with the image subjects’ present day descendants.
The author established very close relationships with the people she interviewed. Unlike so many field workers, she kept up these friendships long after her research ended, donating profits from this book to a young student from the Fort Hall Indian reservation. This is a beautiful volume, written with intelligence, sensitivity, and obvious care for the people with whom the author collaborated.
2006 Winner: Woven Stories: Andean Textiles and Rituals. Andrea Heckman.
The Quechua people of southern Peru are agriculturalists and herders who maintain large herds of alpacas and llamas but they are also weavers, and it is through weaving that their cultural traditions are passed down over the generations. Owing to the region’s isolation, the textile symbols, forms of clothing, and technical processes remain strongly linked to the people’s environment and their ancestors. Heckman’s stunning photographs convey the warmth and vitality of the Quechua people and illustrate how the land is intricately woven into their lives and their beliefs. Her focus is the area around the sacred peak of Ausangate, in southern Peru, eighty-five miles SE of the former Inca capital of Cuzco. This ethnography of the textiles and their place in daily life that considers how the form and content of Quechua patterns and designs pass stories down and preserve traditions as well as how the ritual use of textiles sustain a sense of community and a connection to the past. Heckman concludes by assessing the influences of the global economy onindigenous Quechua, who maintain their own worldview within the larger fabric of twentieth-century cultural values and hence have survived everything from Latin American militarism to a tidal wave of post-modern change.
2002 Winner: The Ones That Are Wanted: Communication and the Politics of Representation in a Photographic Exhibition. Corinne Kratz. (2001: University of California Press)
Corrine Kratz, The Ones Who Are Wanted: the Politics of Representation in a Photographic Exhibition” (2002)The Okiek people of Kenya’s forested highlands have a long history of hunting, honey gathering, and trading with their Maasai and Kipsigis neighbors; several decades ago, they also began farming and herding. This book follows a traveling exhibition of anthropologist Corinne Kratz’s photographs of the Okiek through showings at seven venues, including the National Museum in Nairobi and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Kratz tells the story of the exhibition–the stereotypes it sought to challenge, how commentaries by Okiek people were incorporated, and different ways that viewers in Kenya and the United States understood it. Throughout, Kratz incorporates insightful reflections on her changing involvement with the exhibition as anthropologist, photographer, and curator, and she provides perceptive discussions of such topics as photography in Kenya, stereotypes, and the post-1970s proliferation of the politics of representation.
2002 Winner: Changing Works: Visions of a Lost Agriculture. Douglas Harper. (2001: University of Chicago Press)
The work of Douglas Harper has for two decades documented worlds in eclipse. With photographs and interviews with dairy farmers in upstate New York, Harper brings into view a social world altered by machines and stuns us with gorgeous visions of rural times past. As a member of this community, Harper relates compellingstories about families and their dairies that reveal how the advent of industrialized labor changed the way they structure their work and organize their lives. Changing Works combines Harper’s pictures with classic images by photographers such as Gordon Parks, Sol Libsohn, and Charlotte Brooks-men and women whose work during the 1940s documented the mechanization and automation of agricultural practices. Ultimately, Harper challenges timely ecological and social questions about contemporary agriculture. He shows us how the dissolution of cooperative dairy farming has diminished the safety of the practice, degraded the way we relate to our natural environment, and splintered the once tight-knit communities of rural farmers. Mindful, then, of the advantages of preindustrial agriculture, and heeding the alarming spread of mad cow and foot-and-mouth disease, Changing Works harks back to the benefits of an older system.
The John Collier Jr. Award for Still Photography is awarded periodically to a photographer whose work exemplifies the use of photography for research and communication of anthropological knowledge. The awardee can be nominated by any member of the SVA at any time. A letter of nomination and any supporting material should accompany a copy of the creative work submission. Once a nomination is received the Board appoints a committee to decide on its merits. A book or exhibit can be nominated for an award. Nominations for the Collier Prize should be submitted by June 30 of each year to any current member of the SVA Board of Directors. A letter of nomination should accompany a copy of the creative work submission. A committee of three, appointed by the SVA Board, will review the works and award-winners will be notified in advance of the annual AAA meetings so that they might consider attending. In addition to having their production presented during AAA, winners will receive a prize and a certificate of the award.
Lifetime Achievement Award for 2009: Richard Chalfen
Richard Chalfen’s Lifetime Achievement Award – Introduction by J. C. Scherer 12/2/09, American Anthropological Association, Philadelphia, PA
It is a pleasure for me to present Dr. Richard Chalfen with a Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Society of Visual Anthropology. What does it mean to be given a Lifetime Achievement Award? The individual has to be someone who has influenced the field through publications, the mentorship of students, and outreach to the larger community. To be worthy of this award, the individual must possess the transformative ability to inspire, motivate and advance their ideas so that others build on them, and create a new body of knowledge. We believe that Richard Chalfen has succeeded on all these goals.
Dick’s resume is awesome. From his earliest years at the Annenberg School of Communication, at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his Ph.D., to his most recent years as Senior Scientist at
Dick has taught and mentored students at Temple University in Philadelphia as well as in the Temple program in Tokyo, Japan. He most recently was a visiting fellow at the National Centre for Research
In short, Dick has been a mentor, teacher, friend and greatly missed colleague at these anthropology meetings. We reach out to him today with thanks for years of dedication, excellence and accomplishment in the field of visual anthropology. It is for these reasons that the SVA is giving Richard Chalfen a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award.
SVA Lifetime Achievement Award for 2009: Asen Balicki
SVA Lifetime Achievement Award for 2008: Karl Heider
The Society for Visual Anthropology proudly gives its Lifetime Achievement Award for 2008 to Professor Karl Heider. He holds a doctorate from Harvard University and is Carolina Distinguished Professor (Emeritus) at the University of South Carolina. Heider’s work encompasses broad areas as a researcher, filmmaker, teacher, and writer.
He has carried on extensive field study and filmmaking among the Dani of New Guinea as well as the Minang Kabav of West Sumatra. His current research interests include the cultural shaping of emotions. A book based on this research called The Wisdom of Rice: Emotion and Folk Psychology in West Sumatra is in preparation.
Heider’s many films include studies of aspects of Indonesian as well as specifically Dani expressive and material culture, technologies, and arts. Houses, batik, sweet potato farming, rice irrigation, shadow puppets, and dance are examples of his topics.
His work as a teacher comes to life in textbooks he has written for students and instructors, includingFilms for Anthropological Teaching, in its 8th edition with Carol Hermer, Ethnographic Film,in its 2nd edition and the innovative Seeing Anthropology, in its fourth edition with Pamela and Tom Blakely. He has taught an impressive list of more than sixty courses at noted centers of higher learning in the United States and overseas.
In addition to the volumes cited above, Prof. Heider co- authored Gardens of War. Life and Death in the New Guinea Stone Age with Robert Gardner, and wrote The Dani of West Irian: An Ethnographic Companion to the (Gardner’s) film Dead Birds. He also authored The Dugum Dani: A Papuan Culture of the Highlands of West New Guinea, the Grand Valley Dani, Landscapes of Emotion: Mapping Three Cultures of Emotion in Indonesia, and Indonesian Cinema as well as many other works.
The Society for Visual Anthropology is honored to give our award to a person of such accomplishments. He has served and will again serve as our president as well as a number of administrative and editorial positions within the American Anthropological Association as a whole, and who has been a constant source of support to workers in our field.
Mary Strong, SVA president