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In addition to existing GSAS Secondary Fields in Film and Visual Studies and in Critical Media Practice, the Department of Anthropology (Social Anthropology) offers a Ph.D. in Anthropology, with a special emphasis on Media Anthropology.

Students are regular members of the graduate program in social anthropology, and all requirements for the Ph.D. in Anthropology pertain to those specializing in Media Anthropology. The Media Anthropology program is designed for students who wish to undertake practice-based research and make substantial ethnographic use of audiovisual media in their doctoral work. In addition to selecting required and elective courses in anthropology, students join a group of faculty, graduate students, and visiting artists working in media anthropology. They participate in regular events in media anthropology, such as screenings and lectures by visiting artists and media anthropologists, and work-in-progress critique sessions. They take courses offered by the Anthropology faculty in the program, as well as by faculty in other departments also offering courses in art practice. They may also participate in specialized research and creative activities with faculty and fellows, and may serve as teaching fellows in courses in media anthropology.

In addition to all regular requirements for the Ph.D. in Anthropology, including the dissertation, Ph.D. candidates specializing in Media Anthropology must also produce an original creative work, or works, emerging from intensive ethnographic fieldwork, in an audiovisual medium or media such as film, digital video, CD-ROM, DVD, still photography, or phonography. For work in time-based media, this will normally result in a work of not less than 30 minutes’ duration. The work must be supervised throughout by a qualified faculty member from within the department who will also serve on the candidate’s doctoral committee, and in that capacity be charged with evaluating the merits of the candidate’s media work.

The work must be accompanied by a Practitioner’s Statement of two to three pages outlining the intentions of the media work and its relationship to the written dissertation. Exhibitions, installations, and performances will also be considered for the Media Anthropology capstone project, so long as they incorporate a significant media component. In collaborative media projects, the Practitioner’s Statement must be accompanied by a further paragraph detailing the candidate’s role in the work. Collaborative media projects will only be considered when the student not only contributes ethnographic expertise, but also has a primary authorial role in the work.

The work, and the Practitioner’s Statement, must be formally submitted, exhibited, and defended in conjunction with the written dissertation. Students working in site-specific installations or performances must submit detailed documentation of the project. When all requirements have been fulfilled, the candidate will receive, in addition to the Harvard-awarded Ph.D., departmental recognition of degree completion, “with Media.”

Application to the program is the same as for application to the Social Anthropology Ph.D. program, and follows the usual procedures for applications to the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, including GRE examinations. Applicants should indicate an interest in media anthropology in the statement of purpose when applying to the Ph.D. in Social Anthropology, and submit, whenever possible, a portfolio documenting previous media work, preferably via a website or alternatively on a DVD or CD. (Please supply two copies and a statement of the disc’s contents and your role therein.)

Additional complementary options for students interested in media and media studies include secondary field certification in Critical Media Practice (link) and Visual and Media Studies (link) offered by the Graduate School in Arts and Sciences.


See Also

Frequently Asked Questions

Secondary Field in Film & Visual Studies

Department of Anthropology

Social Anthropology

Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Secondary Field in Critical Media Practice
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