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MVA Student Work-In-Process > Department of Anthropology > USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

MVA Student Work

"Representation is  how art and science clarify human experience."
David MacDougall,The Corporeal Image, 2006


Of all representational media, film has the unique ability to capture the visceral aspects of particular phenomena. Film's capacity to combine the visual and aural, provides a more corporeal experience than text alone. Ethnographic filmmakers can exhibit personal encounters in ways even the most accomplished ethnographic writer cannot. This first class of the Masters of Visual Anthropology program at USC is a group of dynamic personalities. The promising filmmakers have brought a wide range of interesting perspectives to the program. The MVA works-in-progress involve eclectic themes rooted in gender identities, the industry of death, shifting cultural identities, politics and perception, and trans-cultural communities.

Briana Young

Briana Young, M.A. Visual Anthropology, USC 2010; B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from UCLA.  Her current research interests are in LARP (Live Action Role Play), the body, power, and identity, the female athlete and the role of sports as a vessel that reflects and reinforces gender norms. Her thesis film Ladies of the Gridiron will follow women from the Los Angeles based professional women's tackle football team, The Quake, as they navigate complex relationships between masculinity, femininity, family commitments, team commitments and job commitments. Projects include: Maid In LA , giving a brief glimpse at immigrant domestic workers in Los Angeles, it captures the thoughts and feelings of two women in the middle of their long days; Art of Burlesque a project melding still photography, traditional ethnographic interviews and music; and an excerpt from her work in progress Ladies of the Gridiron. Clips from each of these projects can be viewed in the player below by clicking on the links "older" and "newer."

Christina Strunk

Christina Strunk, M.A. Visual Anthropology, USC 2010; B.A. Visual Anthropology, USC, 2009. Although Christina has been interested in documentary filmmaking for many years, the Center for Visual Anthropology has been an excellent resource to start her career as an ethnographic filmmaker. Her research interests developed from her experience of growing up in the funeral industry. About a year ago, after searching for a topic for her thesis film, she realized that her unique perspective of growing up surrounded by funeral industry professionals would be an excellent subject for an ethnographic study. Employing reflexivity and dual storytelling, her thesis film will show how she navigated though society as a individual stigmatized by her family's connection to the funeral industry and will explore her father’s unique experiences working as a mortician for the past 35 years. Two clips from her thesis project can be viewed in the player below by clicking on the links "older" and "newer."

Christian Maltbaek

My name is Christian Maltbaek.  As an undergraduate my background was in both Anthropology and Archaeology, so for my Masters thesis film I wanted to center on Archaeology. What began as a desire to explore the lives of student archaeologists evolved into an examination of archaeology/cultural history’s public perception and place in the world.  From the dominating image of Indiana Jones to a role in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, technological innovation to the politics of artifact and human remains, most in the field agree that a stronger connection to and with the public is needed.  I hope this project can be a starting point. A clip from my MA thesis film in progress can be seen in the player below.

Eric O'Connell

Eric O'Connell, M.A. Visual Anthropology, USC 2010, has degrees in Journalism and Anthropology (NMSU 1990) and was a commercial and documentary photographer in New York City for 18-years. His current research interests are in Eastern Europe, and his Masters thesis film, Cowboys: East Germany, deals with cultural shifting, and adopted identities in pre- and post-communist Germany. His short films include, Cowboys: East Germany v1: The Americans, a comparative essay examining counterpoint to the cowboys project, and a diary film, Nine minutes, Eleven Seconds, surrounding his near-death experience in 9/11, his recovery and journey to attend school at USC. Visit Eric O'Connell's YouTube Channel to see a selection of his video works.

Jamie Schreiber

Jamie Schreiber, M.A. Visual Anthropology, USC 2010; B.A. in Anthropology 2009.  A Los Angeles native, Jamie has always been interested in the symbolic web of culture in which humans enmesh themselves. Her undergraduate thesis, Ritual Institution of Tattoo: Performance, Pain and the Built Environment, was her first official work employing the intertextual methodologies of Visual Anthropology. Jamie’s Masters thesis, Los Extraños del Camino Inca, is a pilot study of a cross-cultural encounter on the Inca Trail in the Andes of Peru. The salient and overarching research question for the film is as follows: Is there something about a physical journey to a sacred space that alters the dynamics within a group of individuals? The accompanying film is an aspect of the work-in-progress; a reflexive piece, Jamie considers her influence on the fleeting community of which she is both participant and observer. A short diary project based on her thesis fieldwork can be seen in the player below.

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