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Career prospects

Visual Anthropology

Examples of professional skills you acquire in the visual anthropology track:

  • A critical understanding of the communicative power of images and sounds
  • A creative take on filmmaking and photography
  • Translating questions into a camera-based research design
  • Conducting anthropological research and transforming data into text and visual end-results
  • Transforming knowledge and fieldwork data in a concrete visual product
  • Independent attitude

Alumni Views

An education in the social sciences will impart a broad range of skills that easily translate into a multitude of careers. Below you can read about the career paths of a number of alumni in Visual Anthropology.

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Sophie Kalker

Film as a medium to understand social circus

All over the world, children are moving for social change: by doing social circus. For my research, I focused on how children from different social, economic and cultural backgrounds from the Stellenbosch area in South Africa experience moving together in social circus. Also, how social circus tries to help the children to challenge the barriers and walls that are part of the South African landscape. These walls of this landscape have become part of the children that I studied.

I use landscape as a term to try to show the entanglements of history, political context, culture, nature, body and mind. It encompasses the way people are being-in-the-world; how they form, and are formed by it, in an continuous movement. My aim was to research how this movement of life and the movements in the circus relate to each other.

  • Read more from alumna Sophie Kalker

    Exploring other lifeworlds

    I wanted to use film as a medium to come closer to an understanding and portrayal of the experiences of the children, since I don’t think that academic writing alone can communicate the sensorial experience of embodiment and movement. I focused on walls as visual metaphors for the barriers that exist between people from different socio-, cultural, and economic groups in my film. Visual anthropology provides the methods to show how these children embody and become aware of these walls. We should recognize cinema as something that holds many possibilities for creating and sharing knowledge and exploring other lifeworlds.

    Out of my comfort zone

    The experiences I gained during the master have shaped the way I experience my life world right now. To do independent research for a whole year challenges you to think about what truly interests you, what you want to discover and learn about. It pulled me out of my comfort zone. It helped me to gain more confidence in trying to pave the way in the direction I want to go, even though it is a very uncertain one. I want to continue in filmmaking, and I feel that the background in Visual Anthropology is an interesting one to start with, since it offers both an academic and a practical way of thinking. This experience has given me trust in being capable of starting and finishing something on my own. I hope I can take this mentality into further projects.

    Read more about Sophie's film project and watch the documentary online

Patricia van der Does
Patricia van der Does

Imagery is vital to society

As a self-employed person and documentary maker, I have done filming work ranging from projects for the Dutch Refugee Council (Vluchtelingenwerk), with children in Amsterdam East and I have shot news items for Volkskrant-tv. I also work as a producer, researcher and lecturer of the Cultural Social Work study programme (HvA). Currently, I am working on a documentary on the homeless in Amsterdam. From the belief that imagery is vital to society, I work as a cultural intermediary who offers insights into the worlds of other people. 

Because I film my documentaries without a set storyline, reality is better preserved and I try to limit my subjective influence as the maker of the film and visual anthropologist.

  • Read more from alumna Patricia van der Does

    Visual anthropology

    I learned technical skills from a variety of courses during my study of Anthropology and Film and Television Studies. It was during my specialisation, Visual Anthropology, that I learned how to shoot film. For my final project, I made a film about modern witchcraft.

    Anthropology gave me a particular perspective and the film techniques that I learned while studying have been especially important for my work, my research, my own documentary style and my teaching at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

    I have loved travelling ever since I was a child, but for my documentaries I enjoy travelling through Amsterdam. I wanted to shift my focus closer to home and to go in search of other cultures in my own environment.

    Working with a passion

    I have now been involved in film for around 20 years. As a freelance film maker, I work on a wide range of projects covering a broad spectrum of subjects.  

    Turning my hobby into my profession has meant I can work with passion and enthusiasm. I love being able to immerse myself in yet another new subject, as this always opens up yet another new aspect of the world to me.

    It is not easy to find constant employment as a documentary maker: it is a rather crowded pond. But perseverance and following your passion will help you get ahead. Be passionate about what you do and follow your own path within the discipline’ is my advice to anthropology students. If your passion is deep enough, you'll succeed.

    Anthropology is important, especially now. I think people have a wrong idea about anthropologists. This is truly unfortunate given that modern society is screaming out for anthropologists to provide insights, explain and mediate.