Commission on Visual Anthropology


History of the CVA

In the early 1980s, Asen Balikci was invited by the International Union of the Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences’ General Secretary, Cyril Belshaw, to set up a network called ‘Commission on Visual Anthropology’ (CVA).

Its mission was described as follows:
    “It is devoted to the promotion of study, research and initiatives in the field of visual anthropology in its broadest sense, including:
      ethnographic films and videos and their presentation in festivals;
      visual theories,
      methodologies and technologies;
      analysis of symbolic forms;
      studies in visual communication;
      and the use of films, videos and photographs for research and teaching;
      studies in visual perception and aesthetics;
      cross-cultural study of socially meaningful visual expressions;
      the use of media and their social and cultural impact.

    One of the main tasks of the CVA was: “to act as a network, to share and disseminate
    information about activities that are taking place all over the world in the above-mentioned

Balikci did so very successfully by establishing the ‘CVA Newsletter’, in those days distributed in printed form to several hundred recipients.
He emphasized that the commission’s members should not only come from North America and Western Europe, but also from so-called Third World countries, as it was there that the lack of information and communication in visual anthropology was mostly felt (unfortunately this is still true to this very day).

Balikci also organized very successful ICAES sessions in visual anthropology, the largest one at the XIIth ICAES in Zagreb in 1988. Since Balikci’s retirement from the position in the early 1990s, the CVA chairmanship has been held by Antonio Marazzi (Italy) and, since 2001, by Rolf Husmann (Germany). Since August 2008 the chair was passed on to Metje Postma (The Netherlands).