The Society for Cultural Anthropology began publishing photo essays in 2012, amid wide-ranging discussions about alternative forms of critical ethnographic expression. In 2016, this section was relaunched as a collaboration with the Society for Visual Anthropology known as Writing with Light. While further submissions are no longer being accepted, the peer-reviewed photo essays presented here testify to a fertile period of experimentation and engagement with visual scholarship.

The Writing with Light collective is currently in conversation about next steps for the project; please see the Society for Visual Anthropology website for updates.

Final Writing with Light Series

Final Writing with Light Series

The Writing with Light collective was a SCA/SVA joint initiative which provided editors and authors the opportunity to focus closely on the photo-essay as a dis... More

Archiving Postcolonial Modernity: The Foreign Service Family Slide Show

Archiving Postcolonial Modernity: The Foreign Service Family Slide Show

My father worked for the Indian Foreign Service from 1955 to 1982. During this period our nuclear family lived in several countries across Africa, South America... More

Navigating the Anarchy of Debris: Observing the Loss of Material Sovereignty

Navigating the Anarchy of Debris: Observing the Loss of Material Sovereignty

This essay is an immersive exploration of an abandoned industrial site, which addresses the degeneration of materials and the imagery of ruination. By visually ... More

Repetition and Extraordinary Living in the Gaza Camp

Repetition and Extraordinary Living in the Gaza Camp

On a winding two-lane road, just a few kilometers southwest of the ancient city of Jarash, a small refugee camp punctuates the Jordanian landscape. Established ... More

Activist Objects: The Materiality and Meaning of Human Remains in Postconflict Peru

Activist Objects: The Materiality and Meaning of Human Remains in Postconflict Peru

In this essay, I explore an event that inspired my interest in the performative aspects of making political claims. The images included here were made at the Ap... More

Ryzyka: A Curated Conversation

Ryzyka: A Curated Conversation

I walked into the director’s office of the cultural center in the village of Severnoye—a settlement that was recently renovated with the support of a regional p... More

Internet Famous in Real Life: Becoming a Street Style Star at New York Fashion Week

Internet Famous in Real Life: Becoming a Street Style Star at New York Fashion Week

Internet famous and famous for being famous are two common terms of derision used in reference to online celebrities like bloggers and street style stars. This ... More

As Fluid as a Brick Wall

As Fluid as a Brick Wall

Livia Stone became fascinated with the surfaces of Oaxaca de Juarez’s walls while doing ethnographic research in the city in 2009. She took the images presented... More

Imagining Precarious Life in Tulum, Mexico

Imagining Precarious Life in Tulum, Mexico

Until recently, Tulum was a small, quiet town. On the Caribbean side of Mexico, close to Mayan ruins, few cabanas lined its broad white beach and these drew mai... More

Corpus: Mining the Border

Corpus: Mining the Border

Editors’ Introduction In 2010, a conversation was ignited over incorporating photo essays into the new Cultural Anthropology website. The conversation, which st... More