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Publications Archives - Society for Visual Anthropology

Rachel Ward


November 4, 2015

New Issue of Visual Anthropology Review (2015 Vol. 31 No. 2)

November 4, 2015 | By | No Comments

The latest issue of Visual Anthropology Review is out now and is full of exciting articles about painting as thick description, contemporary Aboriginal photography, video activism in Mexico, Somali refugees using social media in India, and the development of an audiovisual archive of everyday life in Indonesia. plus interviews with filmmakers David MacDougall and Shashwati Talukdar. It is available on AnthroSource and through Wiley-Blackwell.

Kate Hennessy


October 26, 2015

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Jonathan Westin on Uncertainty in Historical Visualizations

October 26, 2015 | By | No Comments

Classroom Activities and Discussion Questions

Jonathan Westin’s “Inking a Past: Visualization as a Shedding of Uncertainty” (VAR 30-2, Fall 2014) uses Actor-Network Theory to understand how a visualization studio renders representations of the past.
Questions for classroom discussion:

1. When thinking of the past, for instance Medieval Times or Antiquity, what images form in your mind and how do you differ between the different time periods? Are there certain elements you “include” in your mental image that gives you cues?

2. How does the visualization work of SIF (Studio InkLink Firenze) compare to previous efforts to visualize ancient Rome and other past societies? What are the dominant trends in archeological visualization today?

3. The article describes how an illustration is created through a series of steps that bring shape and form to an initial idea. Is any one step more important than another, and who is the most influential actant in this chain of procedures?

4. The article concludes that it is better to speculate than to only reconstruct what is certain. What dangers lies in both of these approaches respectively, and what are the advantages?

5. How do you think the insights and concepts of Actor-Network Theory can benefit visual anthropologists in their work?

6. One of the most controversial elements of an ANT perspective is the endowing of objects and other nun-human elements with agency, that is, interpreting them as actants within a larger actor-network. What does such a move do to anthropological theory? How does it complicate or clarify the interpretative work of anthropologists?

7. Is it time for an ANT analysis of the field of anthropology itself? Have we escaped the interrogative lens of STS work for too long?



Kate Hennessy


October 3, 2015

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Ethan Sharp on Narcocultura at the Mexican Military Museum

October 3, 2015 | By | No Comments

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Classroom Activities and Discussion Questions

Ethan Sharp’s “Visualizing Narcocultura: Violent Media, the Mexican Military’s Museum of Drugs, and Transformative Culture” (VAR 30-2, Fall 2014) explores the museumification of drug culture in Mexico as a pedagogical dimension of the drug war.


The following set of questions and resources provide pedagogical tools to be used in undergraduate courses.

Questions for classroom discussion:

  1. What are some insights that you would expect to gain into drug trafficking and the drug war from a visit to the Mexican military’s museum of drugs? What are some insights that the museum might provide that are not available at other sites or in other forms of media?
  2. Why does the Mexican military have a museum of drugs? Why is the museum closed to the general public? Why has the Mexican military allowed journalists and other media professionals to disseminate reports about and photos of the museum in recent years?
  3. How are representations of narocultura in the museum similar to and different from representations of narcocultura in other media, such as television shows, narcocorridos, and films?
  4. What are some of the different ways in which you can interpret the representations of narocultura in the museum? For example, how does the museum promote or celebrate narcocultura? How does it denigrate narcocultura? How does it undermine or move beyond the concept of narcocultura?
  5. How do museums contribute to processes of self-discipline and self-reform? Do you agree that the Mexican military’s museum of drugs contributes to self-discipline and self-reform? Why or why not?
  6. Is it possible to develop a critique of the military and its strategies through the museum? If so, how?
  7. Can you imagine some better uses of the museum, or some ways in which the museum could be re-developed? Do you think that the museum should be opened to the general public? Why or why not?


Additional resources:
Links to representations of the museum in the media that are referenced in footnotes:

Links to other representations of the museum in the media:

Links to blogs that provide information about the drug war in Mexico. These blogs occasionally provide links to videos posted by drug trafficking organizations, as well as videos and other resources posted by citizen journalists.

Other forms of media that are mentioned in the article are narcorridos and telenovelas that feature drug traffickers. The following are links to youtube videos that are trailers for telenovelas and/or videos produced by well-known performers of narcocorridos. I have provided short explanations for each one.

A video by Los Tigres del Norte featuring the corrido of La Reina del Sur. La Reina del Sur was a novel about a woman who became a drug trafficker. The novel was made into a television serial in Mexico: 

A trailer for the television serial “Camelia la Tejana,” which is based on a corrido originally performed by Los Tigres del Norte (the song that is performed in the trailer is the corrido of Camelia la Tejana): 

Video created for the corrido “El Ejecutor” by El Komander: 

A documentary film entitled “Narcocultura,” recently released on DVD provides a very good introduction to the drug war in Mexico and the different forms of media associated with narcocultura. The following is a link to the trailer for the film. 


Kate Hennessy


August 31, 2015

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: William Lempert on Native Science Fiction Film

August 31, 2015 | By | No Comments

VAR SUPPLEMENTS: Classroom Activities and Discussion Questions

The following set of activities is meant to be a teacher-led pedagogical tool for provoking undergraduates to engage their perceptions of indigenous futures. It is hoped that this will help to disrupt the ways in which Native peoples have become representationally embedded within Western media and imaginations as artifacts of the past.

  1. Close your eyes for 60 seconds and in as vivid detail as possible, imagine that extraterrestrials land on Earth today. Write down a few key images.
    • Where do they land and who do they meet?
    • Is there conflict? If so, describe it.
  1. This time, close your eyes for 60 seconds and vividly imagine what the future, broadly defined, will look like in 200 years. Write down a few key images.
    • What utopian and dystopian elements did this include?
    • What role, if any, was there for indigenous people?
  1. List a few of your favorite science fiction films.
    • In what ways do the plots of these films correlate with what you imagined in the first two activities?
    • How influential do you think these films have been on your own ideas about the future?
  1. Watch as many of the clips below as you have time for (totals approximately 35 minutes).
    • What was your reaction to these clips in light of this article?
    • Did you agree with the author’s interpretations? Why or why not?
  1. In light of the article and these viewings, choose one of your listed favorite sci-fi films from activity 3 and briefly describe how it might be reimagined to highlight indigenous perspectives.
  1. To what extent does the article convince you that the representations of indigenous peoples in science fiction films have the potential to make practical differences in the lives of indigenous peoples?

Film Links

Available Film Links

 Lisa Jackson’s The Visit (4 mins)

Vistas – The Visit by Lisa Jackson, National Film Board of Canada

Jeff Barnaby’s File under Miscellaneous (7 mins)

Nanobah Becker’s The 6th World (15 mins)



Related Readings

Dillon, Grace. 2012. Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Nama, Adilifu. 2008. Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Rieder, John. 2008. Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.

Collins, Samuel. 2008. All Tomorrow’s Cultures: Anthropological Engagements with the Future. New York: Berghahn Books.

Supplemental Resources

 Imagining Indigenous Futurisms – Facebook Page

This facebook page is an excellent resource to critical scholarship and commentary on indigenous futurisms, with regular engagement with Native science fiction films.


IndigiTube is an Aboriginal Australian example of an video-sharing website that aligns with indigenous futurism in that it is a new media delivery system that appeals to indigenous youth whose primary media engagements are through phones and tablets, as well as its wide variety of topics that transcend binary tropes around tradition and “contemporary modern” life.

Bunky Echo-Hawk’s Website


Kate Hennessy


June 15, 2015

Visual Anthropology Review 31(1) Spring 2015: “Leviathan and the Entangled Lives of Species”

June 15, 2015 | By | No Comments

“Leviathan and the Entangled Lives of Species,” a special issue of Visual Anthropology Review, is out now. Read critiques and commentary by prominent anthropologists and visual scholars—including Christopher Pinney, Catherine Russell, and Eduardo Kohn—about Leviathan, the exciting and challenging piece of ethnographic cinema that is pushing visual representation into new terrain. Also, check out photo essays and experimental audio-visual materials by anthropologists like Amanda Concha-Holmes and Rodrigo F. Rentería-Valencia, that explore the utility of visual ethnography for investigating the entanglement of human lives with birds, fish, monkeys, and other species. This special issue interrogates the role of visual anthropology in re-thinking our understandings of human/non-human relations. It is available on AnthroSource and through Wiley-Blackwell.


Kate Hennessy


January 8, 2012

SENSATE: Call for Submissions and Applications

January 8, 2012 | By |

a journal for experiments in critical media practice

Sensate is a peer-reviewed, graduate-student-run journal for experiments in critical media practice. It aims to create, present, and critique innovative projects in the arts, humanities, and sciences  and to build on the groundswell of pioneering activities in the digital humanities, scholarly publishing, and innovative media practice to provide a forum for scholarly and artistic experiments not conducive to the printed page.
Sensate is currently accepting:

1. Submissions for publication (Due: February 8, 2012)
2. Applications (Due: February 1, 2012)

Read More



December 29, 2011

Visual Anthropology Review, Vol.27 No.2

December 29, 2011 | By |

Visual Anthropology Review Cover, Vol.27.2

Visual Anthropology Review Cover, Vol.27.2

Table of Contents


Tattoo Removal: Three Snapshots
by Susan A. Phillips

Round Trip: Filming a Return Home
by Angela Torresan

Ravens and Film: Stories of Continuity and Mediation
by Eugenia Kisin

A Child’s Right to Participation: Photovoice as Methodology for Documenting the Experiences of Children Living in Kenyan Orphanages
by Ginger A. Johnson

“I’ll Show You My Wounds”: Engaging Suffering through Film
by Alberto Guevara and Elysée Nouvet



Many Mexicos, Vistas de la frontera. Arizona State Museum. November 19, 2010–November 17, 2012.
Michael M. Brescia (lead curator).
reviewed by: Lucero Radonic

Eating Alaska. Directed by Ellen Frankenstein, 2008, 57 minutes, color. Distributed by New Day Films, P.O. Box 1084, Harriman, NY 10926,
reviewed by: Madeline Chera

Umiaq Skin Boat. Directed by Jobie Weetaluktuk, 2008, 31 minutes, B&W and color. Distributed by Documentary Educational Resources, 101 Morse Street, Watertown, MA 02472,
reviewed by: Nelson Graburn



Hong Kong: Migrant Lives, Landscapes, and Journeys. Caroline Knowles and Douglas Harper. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
reviewed by: Sharon R. Roseman


Global Indigenous Media: Culture, Poetics, and Politics. Edited by Pamela Wilson and Michelle Stewart. ••: Duke University Press, 2008.
reviewed by: Pavel Shlossberg

Making the Scene: A History of Stage Design and Technology in Europe and the United States. Oscar G. Brockett, Margaret Mitchell, and Linda Hardberger. San Antonio: Tobin Theatre Arts Fund, U of Texas P, 2010.
reviewed by: Irene Middleton

Viewpoints: Visual Anthropologist at Work. Edited by Mary Strong and Laena Wilder. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2009.
reviewed by: Jason E. Miller

Kate Hennessy


December 21, 2011

CALL FOR PAPERS Media anthropology today: Seeing, hearing, understanding?

December 21, 2011 | By |

(Tsantsa 18.2013)

Guest Editors of the Dossier: Heinz Nigg (Universität Bern) und Kathrin Oester (PH Bern)

Media anthropology examines how people relate to media, how media produce and reproduce reality and how they are embedded within economic and political contexts. How does technological change shape and transform media landscapes? What is so specific about media communication and its aesthetic expression? These questions show that media anthropology cannot be reduced to the tradition of ethnographic film or visual anthropology alone. Visual anthropology has become one among other fields of interest in media anthropology. New topics arise, like the study of communication with and through social media or their use as interactive tools in research and teaching. Last but not least, audiovisual media are now indispensable for communicating anthropological work to a wider public, particularly in settings of transnational dialogue. The number of universities and colleges offering postgraduate programmes in media anthropology or visual studies is growing.  It has also become an accepted practice for students to submit academic work in the form of film, photographic documents and exhibition.

Both visual and media anthropology, are exposed to similar epistemological questions: Are the messages transmitted by audiovisual documents different to those transmitted by written texts? Or are written texts, spoken words and visual representations just different versions of the same content? The growing popularity of audiovisual media in societies across the world suggests that images and sounds address our senses in a more direct way than written texts. The picture of a person wounded in a war can evoke strong feelings of pity, horror or disgust. Or the painting of a solitary landscape may elicit personal memories or feelings of nostalgia. However, if a written text is metaphorically charged, it can also speak immediately to our senses with great emotional and poetic impact. So the relation between text, image and sound is a complex one. As much as we complement visual perceptions with specific notions and ideas, in order to know and classify an object, we also complement verbal messages and notions with visual associations in the process of knowledge production. Read More

Kate Hennessy


April 12, 2011

Iranian Studies, Special Issue: “Beyond the Iranian Frame: From Visual Representation to Socio-political Drama”

April 12, 2011 | By |

Iranian Studies, Journal of the International Society for Iranian Studies, Routledge
Editor: Homa Katouzian
Volume Number: 44, 3, May 2011

Special Issue:
“Beyond the Iranian Frame: From Visual Representation to Socio-political Drama”
Guest Editor:
Dr Pedram Khosronejad, Department of Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews

Visual anthropology and ethnographical film studies are gaining an increasingly critical place in the study of contemporary Iran, and of its diverse people, traditions and ways of life. At a time when much research in Iran still proves to be a close to impossible task, visual materials are often the only resources available to those seeking to understand Iranian current affairs and sociality. This collection brings together one of the first interdisciplinary sets of research conducted by a new generation of visual anthropologists, visual researchers and film specialists, studying Iran through documentary films and visual resources. Part of its originality stems from the freshness of some of the subject matter presented. The contributors of this collection dialogue not just with more familiar, albeit complex topics, such as pastoral nomadism, the Iran-Iraq war, and Iranians in the diaspora, but are also interested in exploring new and emerging phenomena in Iran such as transgenderism, globalization, and the multiple consequences of the 2009 presidential crisis. This is a timely and relevant set of essays that aims to contribute towards a more complete appreciation of a society currently undergoing significant and impacting changes. Read More

Kate Hennessy


January 22, 2011

Special Issue of South Asian Popular Culture – Call for Papers

January 22, 2011 | By |

A Special Issue of South Asian Popular Culture will be published in July 2013 on: Terror and Media
Guest Editors: Ritu G. Khanduri and Ronie Parciack

The spectacular 26/11/2008 attacks on Mumbai brought South Asia to the forefront of (western) discourse on terrorism. International and internal media coverage consociated the Mumbai calamity with the spectacular 9/11 attacks by terming the Mumbai tragedy “India’s 9/11.” Several assessments denied The South-Asian context and subordinated it to Western history and conceptualizations. Public resentment of such analysis was articulated by Amitav Ghosh and Arundhati Roy among others, who called for decolonizing the media coverage, in other words to contextualizing the issue of terrorism within specific South Asian frameworks.

This special issue aims at exploring pivotal theoretical and socio-political concepts related to representations of terror in contemporary South Asian visual cultures. Our aim is to lay the groundwork for a critical reexamination of terror and media in the South Asian context, and contribute to three interconnected areas of analytical import: 1. the theoretical debate on terrorism within South Asian conceptualizations and contexts; 2. a reconsideration of identity formations, cultural constructs and nationalism; and 3. the mass mediation of terror. Read More

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