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
the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital in Boston, he has exemplified the dedication, originality and excellence that puts visual anthropology in the fast forward lane – a plus for those of us who believe in visual anthropology’s centrality. His interdisciplinary interests in cultural anthropology, communication, American Studies, and Asian Studies have given him experience in field
work among native Americans, middle class American families, inner city teenagers in Philadelphia, Japanese Americans living on the West Coast and Southwest, and most recently, patients at Boston Children’s Hospital. His work has encompassed the study of visual culture in mass media, indigenous media and home media, a field of study he conceived, organized and developed for both domestic and international contexts. He has studied and learned from ethnographic films, feature films, children’s film, family snapshots, tourist photographs, home movies/videos, and cell phone images.
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
Methods in the United Kingdom. He has produced three books, over 120 publications and edited professional journals including Visual Studies and, while in Japan, was the founding editor of Sensei. His encouragement of indigenous participation in visual studies extends back to 1966 and his work with Sol Worth and John Adair in the “Navajo Film Themselves Project.” This emphasis in indigenous participation extends to his current studies of chronically ill patients in Boston who make videotapes that teach medical personnel what it means to live with such ailments as asthma, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, sickle cell disease and, most recently, obesity. A long time member of the Board of Directors for the Society for Visual Anthropology; he has also served as past present for the SVA.
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.
Asen Balicki’s Lifetime Achievement Award
Anthropologist and filmmaker Asen Balikci has been an innovator in the field of ethnographic film and film in education for decades. Born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1929, he was educated in francophone Switzerland, and went on to study at Columbia University with Margaret Mead and others, where he earned his Ph.D. in Anthropology.
From 1957 to 1965 Balikci conducted fieldwork with the Netsilik Eskimos of the Canadian Arctic Coast, resulting in the Netsilik Eskimo film series (1968), subsequently broadcast by a multitude of international television stations, and its companion volume on traditional Eskimo life. From 1963 to 1966 he was a senior scientist in the (Hu)mans: A Course of Study Program. The field of human ecology in arctic and arid zones, already present in the Netsilik Eskimo films, appears again in Sons of Haji Omar, a much regarded study of nomadism and rural life among Pashtoon pastoralists in Afghanistan, in collaboration with Timothy Asch and Patsy Asch.
From 1989 to 1991 Dr. Balikci made a number of field trips to Siberia where he was principle investigator for Chronicle of Sireniki, an ethnographic film on the Bering Strait Eskimos of Eastern Siberia (1989), and initiated a program for teaching visual anthropology centered on the Khazim River Ostyak of Western Siberia. From 1992 until 1998 he worked on a research project on inter-ethnic relations in Southwest Bulgaria, and on the culture of poverty in post-socialist Bulgaria, while teaching visual anthropology in multicultural settings.
In Bulgaria, Balikci conducted two visual ethnography training seminars for village boys and girls, the first entitled Balkan Portraits, concerning Bulgarian Muslims and the second devoted to the Bulgarian Gypsies, entitled Gypsy Portraits. His films on Bulgaria include A Month In The Life of Epthim D. (2003), and two films on the Pomak (Bulgarian Muslims), entitled Pomak Portraits – the first on Pomak Women, the second on Pomak Men. Most recently, he has contributed to a film describing the prevailing ideological confusion among Balkan Muslims, which is entitled Muslim Labyrinths.
Balikci is the author of numerous publications in English, French, and Bulgarian, which center on the topics of the ethnography of the peoples of the Arctic Coast, pastoralism in general, and visual anthropology. He was co-chairman of the Program in Ethnographic Film (PIEF), from 1966-1968, chairman of the Commission on Visual Anthropology, from 1983-1993, associate editor of Visual Anthropology (1986-1993), and editor of CVA Review (1986-1993).
Among various academic positions Balikci held a chair as a professor of Anthropology at the Université de Montréal from which he retired in 1994. When he retired from his academic post, he moved back to his home country of Bulgaria to apply his media skills to facilitate communication and education both inside and outside the country.