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SVA Blog - Society for Visual Anthropology

Kate Hennessy


November 23, 2017

The SVA Remembers Richard B. Freeman (1959-2017)

November 23, 2017 | By | 2 Comments

Richard B. Freeman (1959-2017)

Our friend and colleague, Richard Freeman passed away unexpectedly in October, due to complications from cancer. Richard was involved with the Society for Visual Anthropology for at least two decades and was elected to serve on the Board beginning at the end of the 2017 meeting. Richard was an avid photographer and excellent visual researcher, he published in VAR and also notably in the volume Viewpoints (2009), edited by Mary Strong and Laena Wilder. Trained as both a photographer and anthropologist, Richard returned to school and became a librarian, finding a means for combining his passion for anthropology, research, media practice and technology. Since 2012 Richard was employed at the University of Florida as an Assistant University Librarian and the Anthropology Subject Specialist in the Smathers Libraries. There he was able to lend his skills and talents to projects in Oaxaca (with Bill Wood) as well as in Haiti and Miami (with Ben Heblethwaite). Richard was very interested in the role of archiving big data for social science and humanities research, and had recently uploaded his data on Vodou in Haiti and Miami to the Digital Library of the Caribbean, a multi-institution self-upload collection which he eagerly promoted as an example of the future of digital research ( Richard chaired panels and round tables and offered workshops on this topic at national meetings as well as at U. Florida. Most recently he convened a panel on “Data Management for Anthropology in the Digital Age” at the 2016 AAA meetings and was lead editor of a book on the same topic, expected to be published in 2018 (Palgrave).

Over the years Richard regularly attended the annual SVA Visual Research Conference where he is remembered for his insightful comments and supportive nature. This past year he served on the John Collier, Jr Award committee, bringing his critical eye and unique perspective to bear upon the many nominations for outstanding still photography. Richard loved to travel and explore, meet people and listen to music. We could always count on Richard for good conversation on many different topics ranging from his beloved Cubs, anthropology and digital scholarship, photography and camera gear, and his curious and eclectic taste in music from around the globe. His website best reflects Richard’s enthusiastic approach to life, his interests, sense of humor, and his friends (

A remembrance will be held for Richard during the 2017 Visual Research Conference on Wednesday, November 29 at 1:15PM in the Rose Room, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC.

prepared by J. Crowder

Richard chats with Brent Luvaas about his street photography project. Denver, 2016.

Richard engaging with a presenter at the Visual Research Conference in Minneapolis, 2016.

Richard attending the Visual Research Conference in Denver. November, 2015.

Richard sharing his lunch at the Visual Research Conference. Washington, DC. 2014.

Kate Hennessy


November 22, 2017


November 22, 2017 | By | No Comments



Friday, December 1st, 1 – 5pm, SVA WORKSHOP # 4-0770

Location: Marriott, Park Tower 8206

Are you interested in using film for conveying your anthropological research or reaching new audiences? Watch others pitch their projects, think about your own film, learn strategies for funding and distribution and join the discussion.



Six filmmakers have been selected from an open call to pitch their work-in-progress to a jury of funders, distributors and award winning filmmakers. Following a seven minute pitch, each filmmaker will receive feedback from the jury and audience on the effectiveness of the pitch and the substance of the film project – including strategies for visualizing anthropological content and suggestions for developing narrative and structure. Jury and audience awards will be given.

To participate, you must register for workshop #4-0770; $20 student, $40 nonstudent. Use this site for information about how to register (


Alice Apley (Moderator/ Pitch Organizer), Executive Director, Documentary Educational Resources, Co-Director Remembering John Marshall, (2006)

Sarah Elder (Pitch Organizer), Award-winning filmmaker, Uksuum Cauyai: Drums of Winter (1985) – selection National Film Registry (2006), SVA Film Festival Juror, Professor of Documentary Film at SUNY Buffalo, NY.

Ilisa (Lisa) Barbash, Co-director and Producer Sweetgrass (2009), In and Out of Africa (1992). Barbash wrote “Where the Roads All End: Photography and Anthropology in the Kalahari” (2017), co-wrote “Cross-cultural Filmmaking: A Handbook for Making Documentary and Ethnographic Films and Video” (1997) and co-edited “The Cinema of Robert Gardner” (2007). Curator of Visual Anthropology at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

Andrea Meditch, Executive Producer, Man on Wire (2008), Encounters at the End of the World (2007), Producer, Grizzly Man (2005) among others. President, Back Allie Entertainment. Developer, Discovery Films and Discovery Channel. PhD in Linguistic and Cultural Anthropology, University of Texas.

David Weinstein, Senior Program Officer, Division of Public Programs, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).  He manages grants for films, radio programs, museum exhibits, digital projects, and public engagement. David holds a Ph.D. in American studies from the University of Maryland College Park.  He is the author of The Forgotten Network: DuMont and the Birth of American Television (2004) and The Eddie Cantor Story: A Jewish Life in Performance and Politics (2017).



Director / Producer: Jarrod Cann, Co-Producer / Advisor: Dr. Stefan Fiol

Synopsis: LET THE GODS DANCE is a feature-length ethnographic film that follows the life and resilience of a Dalit drummer named Sohan Lal and his family who belong to a marginalized caste of hereditary musicians living in the farmlands of the Himalayan mountains in Uttarakhand, India. Like many drummers from his community, it is Sohan’s duty to invoke ritual possession and dance the village gods, yet he is still seen by most as polluted and untouchable. This film depicts how he and his children endure and resist the narrative that has been placed upon their caste-community for hundreds of years.


Producer: Anna Hedlund,

Directors: Anna Hedlund and Lesedi Rudolph

Synopsis – The documentary explores life in a Hutu rebel camp in the eastern Congo inhabited by the fighters and families of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). The film explores the worldview and propaganda spread by FDLR leaders, some of whom played a role in the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The film focuses not only on the soldiers experiences of violence, but also their families, all of whom are taught that there was no genocide in Rwanda, uncovering an unexpected truth in the propaganda that they are merely innocent victims of history caught in the middle of a war that was not their doing.


Director & DP: Emily Hong, Producer: Maggie Lemere, Impact Producer: Myanmar-Tsa Ji

Synopsis: Above and Below the Ground tells the story of daring indigenous women activists and rock musicians who come together in the ongoing struggle against the Myitsone Dam and for environmental self-determination across their native Kachinland. Through investigation, protest, prayer, and music, they test the boundaries of tentative democratic reform in Northern Myanmar, and work to create a future in which native peoples have the right to care for and protect their own lands and natural resources.



Director: Veronika Kusumaryati

Synopsis: Set against the turbulent sociopolitical atmosphere of West Papua, the film is a feature-length documentary portraying the lived experience of young Papuans in dealing with their violent past and present, in their struggle with their Melanesian identity, and in their fear and hope of their future under foreign forces’ occupation.



Director, Leila Qashu

Synopsis: This film documents Ateetee, a sung Arsi Oromo women’s indigenous dispute resolution process in Ethiopia through the rituals and conversations with the women who practice Ateetee. Arsi women use Ateetee for several purposes, but principally as prayers for rain and prayers for dispute resolution in the case of gender abuse.



Director: Gwyneth Talley, co-director: Gabriella Garcia-Pardo.

 Synopsis: Binat al-Baroud (or Gunpowder Women) is an observational documentary focusing on the Moroccan women who compete in the traditional, male-dominated equestrian practice known as tbourida. Until now, men wearing traditional clothes, armed with gunpowder rifles, charged their horses about 300 meters before simultaneously firing their rifles in the air. Since 2004, women have become increasingly involved in tbourida performances, participating along with men, and also forming their own groups. The film follows the team captain, Amal Ahamri, one of the first women to start riding in this sport, as she balances work, motherhood, and her passion for horses, and the contradictions that arise within her.

Anandi Salinas


November 20, 2017

VAR SUPPLEMENT: Lucas Bessire on Video Workshops

November 20, 2017 | By | No Comments

The essay “Glimpses of Emergence in the Ayoreo Video Project” describes scenes from a recent Indigenous video workshop in Paraguay, to comment on the forms of perception, imagery, and experience that emerged in the workshop encounter.  The aim of the essay is to write difference through such emergent visual forms in order to craft a larger argument about the visual economies and political lexicons of the present.  Drawing from my first experience participating in a video workshop, it  asks how such workshops may collude with the open-endedness of self and world, to inspire new directions for ethnographic thinking, writing and living.

The best way to further explore the argument is to host a video workshop of your own. Here, I’d like to share some tips for those of you who may be interested in the workshop form, as a site of concrete activity or a thought experiment or both.

  • Gather a small group or groups of people. It may be easiest if you already know each other or share some basic points of reference, but it is not required.
  • Task the group with creating filmic or video imagery that will convey something fundamental about yourselves and your shared worlds to others. You can assign roles, or not. One person can shoot, you can pass the camera around, or all of you can shoot at the same time with multiple cameras.
  • Before shooting, discuss the project until you find a topic, theme, value or question you actually care about and believe is central to who you are as a group. If not, it won’t work.
  • Then, pick a video or film format. It may be easiest to choose a medium that you do not regularly use, or one with an unfamiliar technical limitation, such as Super 8, but any will do.
  • Start with a handful of practice exercises oriented toward representing discrete elements that you anticipate including in your subsequent shooting, such as a character, a process, a color or a mood. After you’ve experimented with your style, then proceed to approaching the topic through sequences and scenes.
  • As your group films, think about provoking and staging as much as finding and revealing. Try to experiment with forms of shooting that use the camera to catalyze, conjure or visualize otherwise latent dynamics, such as the techniques of ethno-fiction, reenactment or docu-fiction.
  • Shoot daily over a span of at least three weeks, if not longer.  It is important to not pre-edit these shoots. Improvise, cover, adjust and save big editorial decisions for later.
  • Screen what you shoot as often as possible, preferably every day or two. If your theme relates to or claims to represent wider communities, include them in these screenings, too.
  • Keep a detailed written journal or diary of the entire process. In it, document your decisions, what is happening, what is surprising or not, and reflect on your role in the process.

Once the workshop concludes, you will probably need a break before you decide if you wish to proceed to editing or not. Regardless, this is a good moment to reflect on the workshop experience by reviewing your journal, and watching some films created in a similar way, as in the case of Ateliers Varan or the stunning work produced by Video Nas Aldeias.  (While some of this work is hard to find, you can stream much of it through many university libraries.) This is also an opportune time to organize a reading group to revisit the questions posed by many visual anthropologists, such as:

  • How does this kind of reflexive video work also become an “art of living,” by troubling, exceeding or enhancing ways of knowing, feeling and relating? Was it fun or not?
  • Did the video workshop intensify any subjective contingencies, expressive possibilities or concept-making energies of your everyday life, or not? If so, how?
  • What, if anything, about your experiment surprised you? Did it destabilize any presumptions you had about yourself, others or the world?  What did it make you think about imagery?
  • What happened when you tried to write about your video experiments?  Which elements of the experience were easily accommodated in the written form of your diary, and which seemed to defy textual limits? What might that suggest about ethnographic genres more generally?
  • Finally, what did you learn about the politics of video making, and its potentials to change social worlds?



Anandi Salinas


November 16, 2017

VAR SUPPLEMENT: Lorenzo Ferrarini on Enactive Filmmaking

November 16, 2017 | By | No Comments

The following activities are designed for undergraduate students and aim at supplementing the article “Enactive Filmmaking” in VAR 33-2 by expanding its themes into a reflection on the role and potential of audiovisual media within sensory ethnography, on the role of the ethnographer’s own experience and on that of technology in mediating its representation.

Classroom Activities and Discussion Questions

Part 1 – Sensory Ethnography analysis

Split into small groups, look at/listen to these sensory ethnography pieces and discuss:

  • The article “Enactive Filmmaking” contains a section on hunting in Burkina Faso and its representation in the film Kalanda (2014). In parallel to reading the text, watch this extract:

    and look at these photographs:

    Can you recognize some of the elements the author was writing about? Do those techniques evoke in you a sense of what hunting in that landscape can be like? What do film and photography do differently? Which aspects of editing, color correction, sound design or photography do you find most suggestive?

  • Watch an excerpt from the film Leviathan by Paravel and Taylor (2012): I recommend 8:34 – 18:47. If the film is not available, watch the trailer:

    What strategies are the filmmakers putting in place? How do they use the camera, what kind of images do they propose? What effects are they trying to elicit in the viewers?

  • Watch one segment of Living the Weather by Lorenzo Ferrarini (2016):

    The film is divided into 5 “variations” of equal length, I recommend #2 starting at 7:55, #3 starting at 15:41 or #5 starting at 31:16.What strategies are used here to deal with sensory experience?
  • Starting from the ideas presented in the article, how do these three different takes on sensory ethnography relate to the representation of the ethnographer’s own experience? How is this related to the subjects’ own experience in each case?
    The article makes some points on sensory ethnography and language. How is this played out in the extra media on hunting in Burkina Faso? What are the differences with the other two pieces and which do you find most effective? Why?

Part 2 – Sensory Ethnography production planning

The article accounts for the process of translating skilled practice and perception into part of a documentary film. This activity now asks you to, in an original and specific manner, do the same for a situation of which you have some experience and in which the sensory aspects are particularly relevant: sports training, crafting, concerts/clubbing, performances, public protests, rituals, or others of your choice.

  • How would you represent the situation in ways that might evoke its sensory experience to people who are not familiar with it? Write a short treatment for a documentary piece, breaking down the relevant aspects that you want to represent.
  • How would you approach representing those aspects? Detail shots types, camera angles and lenses, lighting, color correction, anything that you think could help get those sensations through.
  • Did you remember to cover the acoustic aspects? What sounds would you record and include in the soundtrack of a film? How would you layer them?
  • Look at your list and reflect on the aspects you picked and why you think they are useful to the task of evoking sensory experience. Compare them to the process described in the article and highlight similarities and differences.
  • How could the aspects you selected be relevant to an ethnography of that situation?
    How much of what you represented is only relevant to your experience and how much is shared with others present in that situation with you? How would you integrate their contributions into your piece?

Extra readings

Cox, Rupert A., Andrew Irving, and Christopher Wright, eds. 2016. Beyond Text: Critical Practice and Sensory Anthropology. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Ferrarini, Lorenzo. 2016. “Making Living the Weather.” Online:

MacDougall, David. 2006. The Corporeal Image: Film, Ethnography, and the Senses. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Pavsek, Christopher. 2015. “Leviathan and the Experience of Sensory Ethnography.” Visual Anthropology Review 31 (1):4-11. DOI: 10.1111/var.12056.

Pink, Sarah. 2009. Doing Sensory Ethnography. London: Sage.

Wacquant, Loïc. 2015. “For a Sociology of Flesh and Blood.” Qualitative Sociology 38 (1): 1–11. DOI:10.1007/s11133-014-9291-y.

Anandi Salinas


November 13, 2017

VAR SUPPLEMENT: Jinghong Zhang on Tasting Tea and Filming Tea

November 13, 2017 | By | No Comments

Jinghong Zhang’s article “Tasting Tea and Filming Tea: The Filmmaker’s Engaged Sensory Experience” (VAR 33-2, Fall 2017) explores the difficulty with describing, memorizing and representing the sense of taste. It argues that film can go beyond the limit of describing taste with words to represent and evoke the sense of taste, specifically through the filmmaker’s embodied experience.

Classroom Activities and Discussion Questions

Activity 1 Select one type of food or drink you are familiar with.

Step (1) Describe the smell and taste of this food/drink relying on your memory, and write down your notes. Describe this food/drink again while you are having it. Question: Does your description this time differ from that of last time? Why?

Step (2) Work with another two friends. Let them do the same activities as above, on the same type of food/drink. How much do you three agree or disagree with each other?

Step (3) When your group discussion finishes, have this food/drink once again. Do you tend to more agree or disagree with your friends now? What has essentially shaped your taste sensations and descriptions along the three steps of activities?

Activity 2 Now select one type of food/drink that you and your friends are less familiar with or have never had before.

Step (1) Work with the same two friends. You use a camera to record how they eat the food or have the drink. You describe your evoked sense of taste based upon filming, if there are any. How much does you description share similarities with or differ from that by the two friends?

Step (2) You continue filming with one hand, and join in eating/drinking a little bit with another hand. Keep on communicating with your friends. Upon finishing, could you reflect on which aspect you have had a better focus, eating/drinking or filming? Why?

Step (3) Change positions. Now ask one friend (friend A) to use the camera. You and the other friend (friend B) have the food/drink and are filmed. Compare the taste and smell sensations in three different situations: when one does filming without any tasting experience of the food/drink (you, in step 1 and 2); when one does filming with some tasting experiences (friend A); when one is being filmed while tasting (the three of you).

Questions: How does the use of camera influence your taste sensation? How much is it possible to work on filming and tasting simultaneously? What is a more efficient way for the filmmaker to record a tasting activity while not losing his or her sense of taste?

Activity 3

Watch the footage you and your friends just shot. Watch it four times. Each time focus on only one aspect: 1) vision; 2) sound; 3) touch; 4) taste and smell. Compare your different sensations in different watching. What particular feelings or impressions do you get from the film each time?

Other suggested films for the same activity:

SOMM (directed by Jason Wise 2012)

One short film by Jinghong Zhang, “Tasting Ancient and Modern,” 6 minutes.


Anandi Salinas


October 27, 2017

VAR SUPPLEMENT: Laurian Bowles on Doing the Snap

October 27, 2017 | By | No Comments

Classroom Activities and Discussion Questions

Before reading the article

Bowles argues that “common tourist or journalistic photos” show “African women with a load on her head and a baby tied to her back” (2017:17). Make a brief list of five characteristics of each of these kinds of photographs.

Next, students should peruse promotional materials (websites, your college/university’s study abroad brochures) of nongovernmental organizations, non-profits and anthropology textbooks that focus on Africa and use photographs of women.

Consider the following questions:

  1. How well do these photographs represent similarly or differently from tourist or journalistic photos?
  2. Who is the primary audience for these photographs? What are the goals of these photographs?
  3. What kinds of assumptions do you have as a viewer of these photographs?
  4. What kinds of questions do these photos raise for you about the people presented in the photograph?

Discussion question to answer after completing the reading:

  1. How does Bowles’s work contribute to your critique of these images that you looked at before reading the article?
  2. How successful is the author in bringing greater context to the images that women produced?
  3. How might stories differ between migrant’s families and their friendship groups in Accra?
  4. Porters spend large amounts of time waiting for customers and are expected to move quickly through the market once they are hired. How do these tensions foster creativity narratives? What are some of the ways that porters cope with their boredom?
  5. How does household composition afford women greater work opportunities?
  6. How do porter habits of “doing the snap” help animate women’s labor?
  7. In what ways do the images serve as memory-making devices for porters?
  8. Market women are widely revered in Ghana for their sharp business acumen and financial success. In what ways does Bowles’s study raise questions about who is considered a market woman?

Further considerations:

This next exercise encourages students to think critically about the images they create as part of storytelling practices. The goal is to broaden student’s understanding about the way images foster the circulation of narratives and serve as meaning-making for groups.

Look at the five most recent photographs you’ve taken and briefly brainstorm on the social life of these stories by answering the following questions. Then, make a list of the tags or commentary you made about the photographs if you shared them on social media.

  1. Did you write any tags or comments to the images before you posted?
  2. Do the images have a social life that is not captured in the post information?
  3. How does the structure of an image and the text associated with it produce a particular kind of narrative?
  4. Are there some social significances in the images that are untold in the written text?
Aynur Kadir


October 23, 2017

Call for Applications for Co- Directors for the 2018 SVA Film and Media Festival

October 23, 2017 | By | No Comments

The Society for Visual Anthropology invites applications for Co- Directors for the 2018 SVA Film and Media Festival. This is a 3-year position that will begin after the end of the 2017 meetings and continue until the end of the 2020



The Society for Visual Anthropology’s Film & Media Festival screens work by students, professional anthropologists, and professional filmmakers at the annual SVA Film & Media Festival, which is currently held during the American Anthropological Association’s annual conference.


The film festival co-directors will work with the film festival jury, comprised of anthropologists and filmmakers, who select work to be included in the Festival on the basis of anthropological relevance and value to the field. Low budget and shorter works receive as careful attention as high budget or longer works. The SVA bestows a number of awards each year, including best overall films (at different lengths), best student work, and when appropriate the Jean Rouch Award for collaborative and participatory work.




Qualifications of the Film Festival co-directors:


  1. An advanced degree in Anthropology and a background in fields related to visual anthropology.
  2. Proven organizational skills, especially in managing events (i.e. workshops, conferences, and/or visual exhibitions)
  3. Background in some aspect of film or media production


Responsibilities include:


  1. Work with the SVA board to solicit films through annual calls for films.
  2. Contract with the festival hosting site, to make sure listing is up to date and has the appropriate deadlines.
  1. Send out a call for and organize groups of pre-screeners.
  2. Create a pre-screening profile in so that pre-screeners can enter their comments.
    1. Organize pre-screening of films via giving pre-screeners access to the films they will be asked to view, set deadlines for their comments and control their access to the films.
    2. Creates a jury in consultation with the SVA Board.
    3. Hosts the jurying meeting and works with the Film Festival jury to coordinate jurying of films.
    4. Determine prize winners with jury; notify winner and assist with coordination of travel plans and award presentations.
    5. Schedule the Film & Media Festival in consultation with AAA staff.
    6. Advertise for the film festival.
    7. Organize staffing for the film festival itself at the Annual Meetings of the AAA.
    8. Manage budget in consultation with SVA Treasurer, including costs for jurying, technical support, staff, travel awards, and advertising.


The film festival co-editors should commit to the following work effort:


  1. One or two hours a week from January to early March for festival planning/preparation.
  2. Three to four hours a week from mid-March to April for festival related communications, database preparation.
  3. Five to six hours a week in April and May for pre-screening communications, data input, etc.
  4. One week in May or June for jurying preparation and jurying hosting.
  5. One or two hours a week from July to September for conference and film festival coordination and planning, and to prepare an annual report for the SVA Board.
  6. Four – six hours/ wk in September, October and early November for festival coordination and planning.
  7. At least several days immediately before, during and after the AAA annual meeting for festival management. (Past co-editors found that at least half of every day at the annual meeting was used in festival related activities). Co-editors should expect to arrive at the AAA meetings one day early (Tuesday) and stay until Sunday; they are also expected to attend the SVA Board Meeting as well as the SVA Business Meeting and Awards Ceremony.



The film festival editor is a voluntary position and does not receive direct compensation for time or effort. The SVA Board will reimburse expenses directly related to film festival upon approval. Jurying travel and meal expenses are covered by the SVA. Film Festival co-editors’ attendance at the AAA annual meeting is required and reimbursed (up to $1500 total to be shared between the two co-editors).


For further information or to submit an application please email SVA President-Elect Matthew Durington:


Aynur Kadir


October 14, 2017

Extended deadline for AAA Film Pitch Workshop: October 30th, 2017

October 14, 2017 | By | No Comments

Are you currently working on a film? Are you interested in getting feedback?

Are you interested in ethnographic film production but not yet ready to share a project in progress?

Due to the enormous success of the 2016 Pitch Session, we are once again convening a Film Pitch Workshop at the 2017 Annual Meeting.  Please join us for the 2nd Annual Society for Visual Anthropology Film Pitch Workshop, December 1st from 1-5 PM.


This workshop uses the pitch format of documentary film festivals in which filmmakers pitch their work-in-progress to a jury of funders, distributors and award winning filmmakers. For each film presented, the jury will provide feedback including strategies for visualizing anthropological content and suggestions for developing your narrative and structure. Other discussion topics include conceptualizing your audience, and opportunities and strategies for funding and distribution.

Preselected filmmakers will give a 10 minute presentation of their project that includes a description of the story, themes, research, visual style, plans for completion and a short video sample. Our workshop format is intended to encourage lively discussion between jurors, other workshop participants and the presenting filmmakers. Discussion will address both the effectiveness of the pitch and the substance of the film project.

The goals of the workshop are:

  1. To model how to present a film project to potential collaborators, funders & distributors.
  2. To provide concrete strategies for turning research into visually compelling stories.
  3. To direct participants to funding and distribution opportunities.

Pitch jurors are to be announced.

Two Ways to Participate
PITCH YOUR PROJECT: Whether your project is in development, production, or in rough cut stage, this is an opportunity to get feedback on your work-in-progress from a jury with expertise in anthropological filmmaking, funding and distribution. Seven filmmakers (or filmmaking teams) will be selected to pitch projects. Those interested in presenting their film project should send a brief Pitch Proposal to Alice Apley by October 30, 2017. The organizers will select a mix of experienced to first-time filmmakers.
NONPITCHING WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS: As a workshop participant, you can observe the pitches, get ideas for projects, join the discussion about the projects in progress, learn from the pitches, and plan for a future visual project.
Pitch Proposal
If you are interested in pitching, send a one-page description of your project and a video sample. It should include:
  • Short synopsis describing the significance of the project, brief discussion of the issues, themes and story you will explore, and the visual style of the film (e.g. observational, experimental documentary etc).
  • Your bio, including your unique qualifications for completing this project successfully, such as knowledge, skills, access or history of involvement with the characters and/or subject matter.
  • Please also include a short status report describing where you are in the research, development and/or production process, what work has been completed and a brief timeline.
  • Production-related photo (optional).
  • Also send a trailer, teaser, or clips via a single streamable link of film footage or visuals (still or moving). (7 minutes maximum)

For questions, email Alice Apley or Sarah Elder.

Aynur Kadir


October 11, 2017

Extended deadline for proposals: Displacements: December 8, 2017

October 11, 2017 | By | No Comments

Call for Proposals: Displacements

Call for Proposals
2018 Biennial Meeting of the Society for Cultural Anthropology
Cosponsored by the Society for Visual Anthropology

Thursday, April 19–Saturday, April 21, 2018
An online event
Tune in from wherever you are, or come together to invent and collaborate

Extended deadline for proposals: December 8, 2017

* * *

Displacements are in the air: episodes of profound political upheaval, intensified crises of migration and expulsion, the disturbing specter of climatic and environmental instability, countless virtual shadows cast over the here and now by ubiquitous media technologies. What does it mean to live and strive in the face of such movements? What social and historical coordinates are at stake with these challenges? And what kind of understanding can anthropology contribute to the displacements of this time—given, especially, that our most essential techniques like ethnography are themselves predicated on the heuristic value of displacement, on what can be gleaned from the experience of unfamiliar circumstances?

Exclusionary politics of spatial displacement always depend on rhetorical and imaginative displacements of various kinds: a person for a category, or a population for a problem. In the face of such moves, the critical task of ethnography is often to muster contrary displacements of thought, attention, imagination, and sensation. What forms of social and political possibility might be kindled by anthropological efforts to broach unexpected places, situations, and stories? The 2018 SCA Biennial Meeting, cosponsored by the Society for Visual Anthropology, will invite such prospects in tangible form, as experiences of what is elsewhere and otherwise. This is a conference that will itself displace the conventional modes of gathering, taking place wherever its participants individually and collectively tune in.

For the first time, in 2018, the SCA Biennial Meeting will take place as a virtual conference. We invite you to contribute an individual audio/video presentation of 5–10 minutes in length, a proposal for a panel of related presentations, or an idea for some localized form of in-person collaboration to which conference participants could have access. You may simply choose to record yourself giving a talk or reading a paper. But we especially encourage efforts to take us elsewhere along with you in a more sensory and immersive register: multimedia presentations, voiceover essays spliced with fieldwork fragments, sound works, short films, photo sequences, and so on. In this spirit, here is another call for submissions to the Biennial Meeting, one expressed in a different manner.

Air travel is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, and one of the chief ways that an academic livelihood contributes to carbon pollution. We are exploring the virtual conference format with the ideal of carbon-neutral activity in mind. This format will also enable broader geographical participation, most especially against the backdrop of a political climate of unequal restrictions on international travel. We hope, too, that the web-based media platform we are developing for the conference will allow for novel explorations of expressive form in anthropology.

One of the chief values of the academic conference no doubt lies in face-to-face meetings and interactions. We hope, however, that this effort may provoke decentralized, affinity-based forms of collaboration, interaction, and uptake, in the spirit of experimentation that the SCA and SVA have long encouraged. We therefore invite participants to consider gathering together into local nodes of collective participation in the conference: viewing parties, classroom activities, departmental engagements with the conference, hackathon-style events that culminate in outputs that can be shared with other conference attendees, or anything else you can imagine.

All presentations must be prerecorded and shared in advance with the organizers. The presentations will be posted sequentially, in real time, during the conference and will be available to registered conference attendees for viewing, commentary, and discussion over those three days. We are exploring the possibility of a digital archive of presentations for those who want to participate, although more ephemeral contributions are also welcome.

Technical guidance on presentations will be forthcoming soon, but we want to assure you that nothing more complicated is required than what can be done on a typical smartphone. In the meantime, if you are conducting summer fieldwork, feel free to start gathering audiovisual materials that you may wish to incorporate in your presentation (in keeping with the research ethics of your particular field site). Also, keep in mind that if you would like to organize a local node of collective participation, we will work with you to provide some form of support for your event.

The extended deadline for proposals is Friday, December 8, 2017. Please write to with a title and 200-word description of proposed presentations, panels, collaborations, and local events. Panel proposals should include an abstract for each individual presentation, as well as one for the panel. Presentations themselves will be due in late February 2018. Further details on conference registration will be available soon.

Aynur Kadir


October 6, 2017

SVA Members | Mark Your Calendars! AES & SVA Joint Spring Meeting

October 6, 2017 | By | No Comments


Dear SVA Members,

The American Ethnological Society and the Society for Visual Anthropology welcomes you to participate in the joint spring meeting, Resemblance, on March 22-24, 2018!

In an era of “fake news” and “alt” political movements, what counts as meaning making? How can we understand epistemology in an era of madness? The issue of resemblance is as much a pressing social question as it is an academic preoccupation. The American Ethnological Society and the Society for Visual Anthropology explore the theme of resemblance at their 2018 joint spring conference. Welcoming anthropologists, artists, media makers, and community members to Philadelphia during March 22-24, the meeting will provide an opportunity to revisit and explore anew what we believe is knowable as anthropologists and the ways we may wish to rethink our priorities and approaches in our era of heightened violence, strife, surveillance, and policing.

Resemblance is at the very heart of anthropology, as its practitioners have sought to demonstrate the commonalities of all people. While resemblance relies upon recognition and likening, it is also a means of comparison to what one perceives and believes they already know. The conference organizers invite proposals for panels consisting of papers or multimodal presentations, as well as individual submissions that theoretically, methodologically, visually, or otherwise examine the conference theme. We welcome graduate students to present their work in its early stages and to network with more established practitioners. The conference will feature exhibitions, speakers, films, performances, as well as a town hall discussion about how our field can wield greater influence in public struggles of resemblance.

Mark your calendars and look out for submission information this fall!

All the best,

Stephanie Takaragawa

Mailed from the American Anthropological Association
2300 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 1301 • Arlington, VA 22201-3386
tel: 703.528.1902 • fax: 703.228.3546

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