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.

Click here for Current Event:

Community Media and Visual Ethnography in China
Tuesday | April 5, 2016 | 4:00 – 7:00 PM | Leavey Library (LVL) 17

Professor XIONG Xun, our Current Visiting Scholar at the Center for Visual Anthropology in the Anthropology Department at USC,  will screen his new film about the Ami of Eastern Taiwan at this event. He is an Associate Professor of Visual Communication at The School of Communication and Design at Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangdong, China.

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. 


Past events sponsored by the CVA include:


  • 13th International Ethnographic Film Festival of the Royal Anthropological Institute2014 venue at USC Center for Visual Anthropology in Los Angeles
  • Cultural Dimensions of Visual Ethnography: US-China Dialogues (2010) US-China_Dialogues_Program_2010.pdf). This conference examines the cultural dimensions of filmmaking.
  • 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
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