The Society for Visual Anthropology (SVA) is a section of the American Anthropological Association. We promote the study of visual representation and media. Both research methods and teaching strategies fall within the scope of the society. SVA members are involved in all aspects of production, dissemination, and analysis of visual forms. Works in film, video, photography, and computer-based multimedia explore signification, perception, and communication-in-context, as well as a multitude of other anthropological and ethnographic themes.
Founded in 1984, the Society for Visual Anthropology promotes the use of images for the description, analysis, communication and interpretation of human [and sometimes nonhuman) behavior. Members have interests in all visual aspects of culture, including art, architecture and material artifacts, as well as kinesics, proxemics and related forms of body motion communication (e.g. gesture, emotion, dance, sign language).
The Society encourages the use of media, including still photography, film, video and non-camera generated images, in the recording of ethnographic, archaeological and other anthropological genres. Members examine how aspects of culture can be pictorially/visually interpreted and expressed, and how images can be understood as artifacts of culture. Historical photographs, in particular, are seen as a source of ethnographic data, expanding our horizons beyond the reach of memory culture. The society also supports the study of indigenous media and their grounding in personal, social, cultural and ideological contexts, and how anthropological productions can be exhibited and used more effectively in classrooms, museums and television.
The 2012 SVA media Festival selection ‘Returning Souls’ by Taiwanese filmmaker Hu Tai Li was reviewed in the Spring 2013 issue of American Anthropologist. Read the full review by SVA member Kate Hennessy here.