Careers: Programs in Visual Anthropology (outdated/archived)

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An undergraduate student noted that there weren't many doctoral or masters programs in visual anthropology. The Society for Visual Anthropology has a list that is relatively kept up to date:

  • (link broken)

Update 2009.10: It looks like the SVA didn't archive this page before moving their website to a new system. I used the Wayback Machine to grab the 2008 version of the page and include here (after the jump) as a reference. I'll remove it if the SVA wants me to:

Visual Anthropology Programs


New York University

San Francisco State University (see description below)

Sedona Center for Arts and Technology (see description below)

Temple University (see description below)

University of South Carolina

University of Southern California (see description below)



Australia National University, Master of Visual Culture Research (see description below)


East Asia Institute of Visual Anthropology (EAIVA)
(see description below)
United International College Summer Program, ZHUHAI (see description below)


Gottingen University


Goldsmiths University of London (see description below)
Granada Centre of Visual Anthropology (see description below)
Loughborough University (see description below)
University of Kent (see description below)
University of Oxford (see description below)


University of Basilicata
University of Florence
University of Messina
University of Siena
University of Venice


Temple University Summer Program, Japan (see description below)


University of Tromsø, Norway (see description below)


University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


University of Barcelona, Spain


To add to, or make changes to this list please e-mail See also Call For Papers page for occasional summer programs.




San Francisco State University
Visual Anthropology at San Francisco State is part of a department whose cultural courses focus on Applied, Urban and Human Rights Anthropology. The visual courses have lower division numbers, but our Masters students take them for graduate credit. Four courses currently make up the visual focus: Film and Anthropology (Anth 327 [3 units]) gives a short history of ethnographic films and offers theoretical perspectives on Hollywood productions. Culture Jam (Anth/Soc 420 [4 units]) presents theories of visual ideology and offers students the opportunity to practice them in our state-of-the-art digital editing lab. Visual Anthropology I and II (Anth 595 and 596 [6 units each]) is a year long production course which, in the Fall semester, begins with intensive fieldwork and an introduction to digital video production, and, in the Spring, concludes with each student team (2 members each) producing a 15 to 20 minute ethnographic video. Masters students take this course and produce their MA theses within it. For a link to San Francisco State’s Department of Anthropology, for syllabi of the visual classes, and for a peek at the Visual Program Director’s current projects, visit Peter Biella’s homepage at and/or contact Biella himself in-the-electron at <>.
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Sedona Center for Arts and Technology
The Sedona Center for Arts & Technology, Yavapai College, in Sedona, Arizona is a community college that offers Visual Anth. courses. They are moving toward a certificate in Visual Anthropology, although it is not yet in place. They offer four visual anthro courses, two in the anthro department-- Fundamentals of Visual Anthropology, and Ethnographic Film: Exotic People through Western Eyes. Another two are offered in our Digital Media Arts department-- Visual Ethnography Research Methods and Ethnographic Documentary. Peripheral courses are Photographic Documentary, Video courses, Digital Storytelling (a form of life history/oral history), and Non-linear Storytelling (multimedia), as well as foundation anthropology courses.

In the summer, Judie Piner runs a workshop in Multimedia for Ethnographic Researcher and in Digital Storytelling for Community Ethnographic Research. Our program is the Dana Atchley Center for Digital Storytelling and has recently held its seventh annual Digital Storytelling Conference. Attending were educators and researchers using Digital Storytelling in all manner of ways. One speaker was Gordon Quinn (of Hoop Dreams fame) showcasing his new PBS series on "The New Americans," and accompanying educational material.

Sedona Center for Arts & Technology
Yavapai College
4215 Arts Village Dr.
Sedona, AZ 86336
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Temple University
The Department of Anthropology at Temple University offers graduate studies programs in the Anthropology of Visual Communication leading to a Ph.D.

The program is designed to train students of cultural anthropology who wish to study various modes of visual and pictorial communication and/or to communicate anthropological knowledge in some form of pictorial media. Students interested in producing films, videotapes, and photographs will be trained as cultural anthropologists of visual communication not as professional imagemakers. The emphasis of the program is on understanding the cultural dimensions of the pictorial and visual world including

1. The study, use and production of films, photography, television/video, and other pictorial representations for research and public enlightenment.

2. The analysis of pictorial symbolic forms from a cultural and historical framework

3. Theories of visual and pictorial communication as they relate to technologies and methods for recording and analyzing human behavior.

4. The analysis of how people structure "reality" as evidenced by pictorial productions and artifacts.

5. The relationship of culture, communication, and visual/pictorial perception.

6. The study of the forms of social, political, and economic organization surrounding the planning, production, and use of pictorial forms in communications contexts.

7. The study of semiotics, and other linguistic paradigms for their utility in understanding pictorial images.

8. The study of the relationship between pictures and texts.
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Temple University Japanese Visual Culture Summer Program

We are pleased to announce a six-week Summer Program on Japanese Visual  Culture at Temple University Japan. This six-week session will be offered at the Minami Azabu campus, central Tokyo.

This program is designed for upper-level undergraduate and graduate students interested in Japan, Asian Studies, visual anthropology, visual sociology, media studies, or cross-cultural communication. 

Students enroll in two courses carrying three credits each for a total of six credits. The two coordinated courses will offer a sampling of theory, survey, field trips and visual production, all focused on the roots and variety of contemporary visual culture.
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University of Southern California
The Department of Anthropology, in cooperation with the School of Cinema-Television, offers a graduate program leading to the Master of Arts degree in Visual Anthropology. Based on supervised field work in social anthropology, the program's goal is to give students competence in the production of scholarly and professional ethnographic films.

The doctoral program emphasizes ethnography as the discovery procedure for anthropological investigations and encourages doctoral candidates to place ethnographic film in the critical perspective of social anthropology.

Department of Anthropology
Social Sciences Building 154
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0032 U.S.A.
Phone: 1-213-740-1900
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East Asia Institute of Visual Anthropology (EAIVA)
• A post-graduate program for 12 students (ethnic minority and Han-Chinese)
• A course for prospective teachers of VA (graduates of the first M.A. Course) 

In offering a three semester M.A. course in VA (International Certificate of Visual Anthropology), the EAIVA has developed a course module covering theoretical issues of western Anthropology, the history of film and ethnographic film (Chinese and international), film language, visual representation, filmic construction, film aesthetics as well as camera supported fieldwork/research methods.

The EAIVA curriculum for teaching VA is unique even in an international comparison, as its general idea and perspective are a combination of the theoretical discourse within VA, technical know-how and research related tools in the context of the students' film projects.

The EAIVA Visual Anthropology course module also raises awareness of self-reflexivity necessary in anthropological fieldwork and actual filmmaking situations, during which the students concurrently think "research" and "filmic construction of reality". Thus the focus lies on participatory research and questioning of the role of "observer" and "observed" ("the Self and the Other"), transferring anthropological theory onto the level of practical communication in the field.

Broadening theoretical and methodological concepts in VA, we think the field of VA goes well beyond ethnographic film proper and can be further developed into an anthropology of images including newly established research areas i.e. "Media and Ethnic Representation", "Media and Cultural Identity", and "Anthropology of the Senses.
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Goldsmith's University of London
MA in Visual Anthropology
This programme is for students with a degree in Anthropology or a closely related subject who would like to combine theoretical and practical (video) special-isations. It offers lecture/seminar courses and practical training in roughly equal proportions; our dedicated production facilities include digital camcorders and NLE suites.

MPhil and PhD in Visual Anthropology
The MPhil and PhD in Visual Anthropology differs from the standard MPhil and PhD in requiring a dissertation of no more than 80,000 words (as opposed to 100,000) and the production of a film of up to an hour in length or a photographic portfolio of up to 150 images. PhD students with strong visual anthropology interests are currently carrying out research in Guyana, Brazil, Venezuela, the Pacific, Germany, the UK and the USA.
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Granada Centre of Visual Anthropology
MA in Visual Anthropology, combining hands-on training in video production with text-based study of anthropological research methods and the critical appreciation of ethnographic and documentary film genres.

Minimum duration is 15 months.

PhD with Visual Media.  The University Senate has recognised that audio-visual materials may be submitted as an integral component of a doctoral thesis, even though a written text will remain of ‘paramount importance’.  Candidates will normally undertake the MA in Visual Anthropology (or equivalent) as a preliminary year, before proceeding to a 3-year doctoral programme.
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Loughborough University
At Loughborough University, UK Sarah Pink supervises doctoral students in visual anthropology and students wishing to develop visual reserach methodologies as part of their PhD work. The thesis can either be 100% written work or a weighted mix of written and practical work. Please contact Sarah Pink with details of your proposed doctoral research for an initial discussion. For more details of Sarah's areas of interest and recent publications see her web page at:
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Oxford University
Visual Anthropology has been taught as an option course at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology (ISCA) and the Pitt Rivers Museum (PRM) for over ten years, initially for what is now the M.Sc. / M.Phil. in Material Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, then for the undergraduate Archaeology and Anthropology degree and finally for what is now the M.Sc. / M.Phil. in Social Anthropology.

Building upon this strength ISCA now offers a full M.Sc. in Visual Anthropology, and applications are invited from students to commence study in October 2002. The degree aims to provide students who have a strong background in social anthropology (or equivalent) with a thorough training in the theories and methods of visual anthropological research, in preparation for planned doctoral research or to gain employment in areas such as museum and visual archive work, or media research.
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University of Kent
The Department of Anthropology, University of Kent at Canterbury is offering an innovative new Masters in Visual Anthropology. This explores both traditional and experimental means of using visual images to produce and represent anthropological knowledge, furthering our distinctive Kent tradition of pioneering the uses of multimedia in anthropology. It enables students to develop both critical and practical skills of visual analysis, presenting their dissertations in the form of multimedia documents
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University of Tromsø
A Master of  Philosophy (M.Phil.) programme in Visual Anthropology is offered by the Department of Social Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences in the University of Tromsø. The programme in Visual Anthropology is sponsored by the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and funded (1997-2001) by the Norwegian Research Council.

Aims of the Program:
Visual Anthropology is an increasingly important sub-discipline of social anthropology and has become a significant means of disseminating anthropological knowledge throughout the world, particularly in Third World countries. The programme at Tromsø  has been designed to:
1. Introduce students to the history of and theoretical concepts in visual anthropology,
2. teach practical methods for using visual methods in anthropological research and publication,
3. make students conversant in the analysis of meaning in visual media, and
4. give students insight into the role of visual media in a global context.
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United International College is pleased to announce a short four-week non-credit summer session with courses for undergraduate or entry-level university students. These courses are taught by internationally-recognized professors, and mainly in the English language. Accommodation will be provided in dormitories on the campus of Beijing Normal University in Zhuhai, which is 70 mins. by boat from Hong Kong. Students are recommended to enroll for any two courses. Those coming from overseas will need a Letter of Confirmation that they have been accepted by the College, in order to get a visa. Overseas students should please consult their nearest Chinese Embassy or Consulate for detailed procedures. (Their application forms can usually be down-loaded from the Consular website, but allow at least a week to get a visa, and remember to bring a couple of passport-sized photos.)


Outline of the courses offered.

Intensive English programme for high-school leavers. Taught by a team of three experienced lecturers under the direction of Prof. Eva Lai.

World Cultures on Documentary Film. Taught by Prof. Paul Hockings, a British documentary filmmaker and the editor of “Visual Anthropology”. A dozen important films will be screened and discussed from a social science perspective.

Understanding Chinese Culture via Zhuhai. Taught by our faculty, in English, the course will involve visits to villages in Guangdong as well as study tours in Zhuhai, Macau and Guangzhou cities.

For more advanced Chinese computer students, a course will be offered in Data Mining and its Applications. Here the textbook will be in English but the course will be taught in Chinese, by Prof. Guo Haipeng.


The tuition fee for 1-2 courses will be RMB 2500, but for Intensive English alone it is RMB 1500. Tuition for the professional course 4 is RMB 5000. Enrolment must be made by June 1, 2006 at the latest, by down-loading an application form at Tuition fees must be paid in full at the time of registering. Instruction will begin on Mon. 24 July and the classes 2-3 will terminate by Friday 25 August; course 1 will end by Friday 18 Aug. Further information can also be obtained by overseas students sending an e-mail to at Chinese students should contact Kenny at Completed application forms should also be e-mailed to these two staff members.


Australian National University, College of Arts & Social Sciences


Visual Culture Research is a multi-disciplinary coursework program combining the perspectives of anthropology, art theory and film studies with workshops utilising visual media and relevant software.  Basic instruction in film-making for research is included in this course. 


An important focus is on content-led digital research and the use of visual media to convey ideas and distinctive understandings about the world.  There is a strong emphasis on comprehending visual phenomena in cross-cultural perspective.  Students will graduate with a high level of visual literacy and a well-developed  set of conceptual and methodological skills for working with visual materials.  This course will be taught by some of the world's leading visual anthropologists.


Course commences July 2007.


More information:


Contact: T: +61 2 6125 2434



The link above does not work.

You're right..... it looks like SVA changed their website to blog format and didn't carry over that info. Darn, I should have archived it. Sorry!

Here's the general SVA website:

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