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SVA By-laws

A Unit of the American Anthropological Association

(Adopted 2010 – revisions prepared by Peter Biella, Karl Heider, Jonathan Marion, Joanna Scherer, Mary Strong, and Anne Zeller).


1. The Unit shall be known as the Society for Visual Anthropology (hereafter SVA), a Unit of the American Anthropological Association (hereafter AAA).

ARTICLE II. Purposes

1. The purpose for which the SVA is formed is to advance the study of visual anthropology and to encourage communication of the results of such study. Visual anthropology is understood to consist of, but is not limited to, the anthropological or cross cultural study of:

Visual symbolic forms, visual theories, and the relationship among different channels of communication; of proxemics and other analysis of space and territory; of kinesics and other systematic study of body motion behavior and gesture, including dance; of the structuring of reality as denoted by visual productions and artifacts; of art, artifacts, or performance, including cinema; of forms of social organization involved in planning, producing, and using visual signs and systems of signs; of visual approaches to the ethnology of human and other life forms; of film/video/photo archiving; of anthropological teaching with visual media; of visual analysis and methods in the professional practice of anthropology; of the study, production, and use of ethnographic, archaeological, or other anthropological film, photography, or video.


1. The SVA shall be autonomous in all matters within its field that are not reserved by the By-Laws of the AAA, inimical to the AAA’s interests, or prohibited by law.

2. The SVA shall adopt and maintain By-Laws consistent with the AAA By-Laws. The SVA shall file with the AAA Secretary a copy of its current By-Laws.

ARTICLE IV. Membership

1. Membership in the SVA shall be open to any AAA member in good standing who supports the stated purpose of the SVA.

2. A member in good standing shall be eligible to hold elected or appointive office, participate in the scientific program, receive publications, and have one vote in electing officers and in the transaction of other business of the SVA.


1. The Executive Board shall set the annual dues of members, and may establish rates for any special categories.

2. Any member in arrears in the payment of dues shall lose all membership privileges.

ARTICLE VI. Officers

1. The SVA shall have four officers: a President, a President-elect or a Past-President, a Secretary, and a Treasurer.

2. The President shall be the presiding officer of the SVA and its representative on the AAA Section Assembly.

3. The President-elect shall succeed to the office of the President at the expiration of the President’s term. In the event of the absence, death, resignation, or incapacity of the President, the President-elect shall assume the duties of the President, except in years when the Past-President is in office, in which case the Past-President will perform the duties of the President until the next scheduled election.

4. The Treasurer shall have charge of the financial records of the SVA. S/he shall, in consultation with the President and other officers, individuals, and committees that the Executive Committee may direct, prepare a proposed annual budget for submission to the offices of the AAA and to the SVA General Board of Directors. S/he shall also prepare such reports as may be required by AAA and the SVA General Board.

5. The Secretary shall have charge of the general records of the SVA. S/he shall keep the minutes of the Annual Meeting of the General Board of Directors and of any meetings or actions of the Executive Committee. S/he shall provide a written copy of minutes to the members of the General Board in a timely manner.

6. The term of office of the President shall be two years.

7. The term of President-elect and Past-President shall be one year each. The President elect shall be elected and take office in even-numbered years and shall move into the office of President in the next odd-numbered year, at which the outgoing President becomes Past-President for the succeeding year. In any given year there is either a President-elect or a Past-President.

8. The Secretary and the Treasurer shall be appointed by the SVA General Board in consultation with the President. They shall be members of the General Board when appointed and shall serve a term of two years. They may be reappointed for additional terms providing that they are members of the General Board at the time of reappointment. If their elected term on the General Board ends before completion of their term as officers, they shall remain ex officio members of the General Board and voting members of the Executive Committee until completion of their term as officers.

9. Any officer, elected or appointed, may be removed by two-thirds of the votes cast by SVA members voting by mail ballot.

ARTICLE VII. General Board and Executive Board

1. The General Board shall consist of 14 voting members, including 12 elected Board members, a President, and a President-elect or a Past-President. Members of the General Board serve a three year term, with the exception of the officer fulfilling the sequence of President-elect, President, Past-President, who will serve on the General Board for four years from the time of her/his installation as President-elect. The Secretary and/or Treasurer shall be an ex officio member of the General Board if her/his term as officer extends beyond her/his term as a member of the General Board. The General Board may appoint, and set the terms of, additional ex officiomembers, as needed for representation of SVA publications, programs, and events, on the General Board.

2. Members are expected to attend the Annual Meeting of the General Board. The General Board shall define what shall constitute an excused absence. Two unexcused absences may result in removal from the General Board, if such removal is approved at the Annual meeting of the General Board.

3. The General Board shall have the authority to govern the SVA, and to execute on behalf of the SVA all powers and functions defined by these By-Laws. The General Board shall meet once a year, at the time of the Annual Meeting of the AAA. Additional meetings may be held if approved by a majority vote of the Executive Committee.

4. The General Board shall make all non-elective appointments. In the event of the death, resignation, or removal of an officer, the General Board may appoint a successor to fill the unexpired term until the next regularly scheduled election. In the event of the death, resignation, or removal of a General Board member, the General Board may appoint a replacement to complete the unexpired term. The General Board may appoint committees and define their powers, subject to the provisions of these By-Laws.

5. There shall be an Executive Committee comprised of the four officers of the Board and such additional members as may be appointed by the General Board from among its members. The Executive Committee shall have responsibility for SVA affairs during the period between Annual Meetings, subject to the instructions of the General Board and the provisions of the By-Laws.

6. The terms of all elected officers shall begin at 9 p.m. on the conclusion of the AAA annual meeting.

ARTICLE VIII. Annual Report

1. At the time of each Annual Meeting, the SVA General Board shall report its activities to the members and to the Board of Directors of the AAA. The report shall include, but is not limited to, reports of the Secretary and Treasurer, editors of publications, committees, and other agents representing the SVA.

ARTICLE IX. Meetings

1. The SVA shall hold a Members’ Meeting at the time of the Annual Meeting of the AAA.

2. The place and date of this meeting shall be disclosed to the members in the AAA Annual Meeting Preliminary Program.

3. The SVA General Board shall appoint a Program Chair who shall organize the SVA sessions of the scientific program which will be presented at the AAA Annual Meeting.

4. Special Meetings may be called by the General Board or upon written request of five (5) percent of the members.


1. Five (5) percent of the members in good standing shall constitute a quorum at the Annual Members’ Meeting.

2. A majority of the members of the Executive Committee shall constitute a quorum for transacting Executive Committee business. A majority of the General Board shall constitute a quorum for General Board business.

3. The business of whatever group is meeting shall be transacted by majority vote unless otherwise provided by these By-Laws.

ARTICLE XI. Nominations

1. Candidates for elective office may be nominated by the Executive Board, by a Nominations Committee, and/or by members. All candidates shall be members in good standing of the SVA.

2. A nominations committee shall consist of the President and two others appointed annually by the President, at least one of which shall be a member of the General Board.

3. Five (5) percent of the members in good standing may nominate one or more candidates for any office, providing the nomination is received in writing by the Secretary not later than February 1.

4. Whenever possible, two (2) persons shall be nominated for each vacant office. These nominations shall be made known to the membership by publication in the Anthropology Newsletter in May of each year.

5. The chair of the Nominating Committee, or other persons as may be selected by the President and Executive Committee, shall inform nominees of the probable burden of office or board membership. A nomination becomes effective only with filing with the Secretary a statement of willingness and ability to devote such time to the affairs of the SVA as necessary to effective execution of the office or membership on the General Board.

ARTICLE XII. Elections

1. Elections of SVA officers shall be handled electronically through the AAA Office.  Materials must be submitted to the AAA Office by the published deadline.


1. A referendum may be conducted by mail ballot at any time upon the initiation of the Executive Committee, or upon the receipt by the Secretary of a petition signed by five (5) percent of the members in good standing. A majority of votes received shall constitute a favorable vote.


1. The fiscal year of the SVA shall be the same as that of the AAA.

2. The SVA shall submit to the AAA Board of Directors an annual operating budget, which, when approved, shall govern SVA activities.

3. The income from annual dues and from investments and other sources shall constitute a working fund, available for operating expenses, consistent with the purposes of the SVA.

4. No financial obligation in excess of funds available in the treasury shall be assumed by the Executive Committee or by any officer on behalf of the SVA except that, for purposes of this section, estimated receipts from annual dues and other accounts receivable for the current year may be considered as available funds.

5. The SVA may establish special funds to be administered by the AAA for purposes the SVA may designate.

ARTICLE XV. Amendments

1. These By-Laws may be amended by the members of SVA by mail ballot, provided that a proposed amendment is approved two-thirds (2/3) of the votes cast.

2. Amendments may be proposed by the General Board or by five (5) percent of the members in good standing.

3. The amendments and provisions of the By-Laws shall be effective immediately upon adoption and shall supersede and nullify all previous amendments and provisions.


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