Center for Visual Anthropology

The Center for Visual Anthropology (CVA) at USC was founded by the acclaimed anthropologist Barbara Myerhoff, best known for her Academy Award-winning documentary Number Our Days (1976). The CVA is dedicated to the incorporation of visual modes of expression into the academic discipline of anthropology. It does so in conjunction with the faculty of the Department of Anthropology through five types of activities: teaching, research and the analysis of visual culture, production of visual projects, archiving and collection, and the sponsorship of conferences and film festivals.

Current Event: Sunday 14 September: 2014 Master of Arts in Visual Anthropology Thesis Projects Premiere  at USC screening 11 student ethnographic films from the graduating class of 2014.

The CVA supports the research activities and projects of graduate and undergraduate students within the department, as well as those of the faculty. The most recent programmatic focus of the CVA is in support of a new Master of Arts in Visual Anthropology, a one-year program. Continuing a 25-year tradition of ethnographic documentary production, the program is open to USC undergraduates majoring in Visual Anthropology and to students coming from other institutions who have a background in visual anthropology. 

The CVA has hosted numerous scholarly and public events in the field of visual anthropology, including serving as the West Coast venue of the Margaret Mead Film Festival. March 7-9th 2014 the CVA will host an American venue for the London-based Royal Anthropological Institute's biannual International Festival of Ethnographic Film on the campus of USC.  


Past events sponsored by the CVA include:

  • Japanese Anime Film and Popular Culture (2004), a symposium featuring a retrospective of the work of Isao Takahata, anime director, Studio Ghibli, Tokyo.
  • Kaleidoscope of Cultures (2001), a retrospective of ethnographic films made in Southern California by students in the orignial Masters of Visual Anthropology program at USC
  • Timothy Asch: A Retrospective (1993), a symposium dedicated to the ethnographic films produced by Tim Asch, director of the CVA from 1984 until his death in 1994.
  • In Her Own Time (1987), a documentary film festival held to honor Barbara Myerhoff that included the premiere of In Her Own Time (1985), a documentary about the last fieldwork of the late anthropologist.
  • Department of Anthropology
  • University of Southern California
  • 3620 South Vermont Ave.,Suite 352
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-2537