SVA/Robert Lemelson Foundation Fellowship Program, Society for Visual Anthropology

Publish Date: Mar 15, 2022

The SVA / Lemelson Fellowships provide funds to graduate students working in visual and multimodal anthropology to do exploratory research and/or methods training in preparation for their Ph.D. dissertation research. The Fellowship will support research initiatives that have the potential to advance the field of visual and multimodal anthropology. Starting from 2022, the program anticipates awarding six-seven Fellowships, with each Fellow receiving up to $6,000 in funding, depending on need.

Who is eligible to apply?

  • Regardless of citizenship or domicile, all graduate students are eligible for fellowships. The program welcomes applications from a wide range of students.

  • At the time of application and throughout the fellowship period, applicants must be enrolled in a graduate program. The proposed research must be in visual anthropology, generally defined, although applicants do not need to be anthropology students.

  • Applicants must have completed a minimum of four years of post-secondary education, including all institutions attended. Fellows typically earn their fellowships as they design their dissertation research proposals during their first or second year of graduate doctorate school.

  • Starting from April 1, 2022, applicants are required to be current members of the Society of Visual Anthropology (SVA) and the American Anthropological Association (AAA).

What types of projects are eligible for SVA / Lemelson Fellowship funding?

Fellows do a study on a wide range of issues throughout the world. We also provide options for at-home research, such as archive research, netnography (online interviews), and production and post-production activities during the worldwide pandemic, when travel may be problematic for many (such as testing equipment or techniques, collaborating with found media, etc.) Projects that required trips for exploratory research, training in gathering visual information, and equipment purchase have all been sponsored in the past.

Constructing the Application 

As part of their application, candidates are required to submit three PDF documents:

A Project Statement of 750-1,000 words (excluding references) in which the candidate specifies the detailed research or training initiatives that the SVA/Robert Lemelson Foundation Fellowship will support. The following notes should be addressed in the statement:

  • Explain how you'll spend your time in detail, including any preliminary findings you'll gather and the analysis you're planning.

  • Please explain how this preliminary research and/or techniques training will help you conduct your dissertation research more effectively.

  • Applicants should make it known if they've ever visited the field site in question. If so, they should describe their time and experience there and how this study session will vary from past ones.

  • Finally, the applicant's statement should describe how their research program will contribute to the field of visual/multimodal anthropology.

A one- to two-page curriculum vitae that includes information about the applicant's education, including dates of enrollment; any research grants, fellowships, or awards received, including amounts and dates.

  • Dates of enrollment and details about the applicant's education;

  • Any research grants, fellowships, or awards the applicant has earned, specifying the amounts and dates;

  • Applicants should include any relevant scholarly publications and talks they've given. You should only include prior employment, volunteer activities, and other experience directly related to their proposed fellowship study. Further details, such as teaching experience, should be left off the list.

Using the template supplied here, construct a budget and a budget narrative: (

Documentation from your program showing that you are enrolled and in good standing as a student. An unofficial copy of the applicant's current transcript, a note from your advisor, a department chair, a graduate program director, etc.

What is the procedure for receiving Fellowship funding? Is there a set budget that must be met?

Applicants must produce a detailed budget and narrative using the offered budget template (available through the link as part of the candidate's application: Fellowship funds can be used to pay for a variety of things, such as:

  • Expenses for travel (such as (not limited to) airfare, local transportation, visa application fees, and so on);

  • Housing and living costs;

  • Fieldwork costs (e.g., participant gifts, translation, and field assistant fees);

  • Multimodal equipment acquisition;

  • Online training and access, memberships, bandwidth, and so on.

  • All other expenses that are appropriate and warranted.

Fellows will be given a lump sum payment at the start of their Fellowship and will be required to present copies of expense receipts after the Fellowship following the fellowship guidelines and approved budget plan.

What projects are funded by the SVA / Lemelson Fellowship? 

  • Fellows cannot pay tuition for graduate school with funds.

  • The program can fund technique training, but the methods must be clearly linked to the broader Fellowship integrative research project. This project will be the focus of the selection committee's evaluation. General methods of statistical training proposals, for example, are unlikely to receive funding.

  • Participants can use a maximum of half of the funds ($3,000) for online education or memberships (for instance, training courses or memberships such as Adobe Creative Cloud).

  • Up to $2,500 of the total award may be utilized to purchase video/film equipment. The Fellow owns the equipment they purchase.

  • $600 of the total award must be made aside for travel support to the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting in November, where the Fellow will present his or her work in person or remotely.

  • The funds cannot be used to collect data for a master's thesis or a doctorate dissertation by the Fellow.

  • Language instruction in more regularly taught languages is not eligible for funding (for instance, Spanish, French, and Arabic). Some funds may be utilized to support language training for languages with minimal formal instruction, but the Fellowship project's focus should be on exploratory research rather than language instruction.

  • Fellows may not take the SVA/Robert Lemelson Fellowship in conjunction with any other summer or research scholarship for the same subject and period as the intended research supported by the Robert Lemelson Foundation Fellowship.

  • Proposals with a budget of $3,000 to $6,000 are likely to be funded. You may request a higher amount than the stated maximum, but an award of more than $6,000 is extremely unlikely.

For further information, please click the "LINK TO ORIGINAL" button below.

Further Official Information

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