Multimodal Anthropologies

By Sonya Atalay, Letizia Bonanno, Sally Campbell Galman, Sarah Jacqz, Ryan Rybka, Jen Shannon, Cary Speck, John Swogger, and Erica Wolencheck


In our hypervisual culture, presenting research in a visually engaging way can have a powerful and democratizing impact. Visual methods, such as comics and animation, aid us in telling engaging, memorable stories about our work. Storytelling is an important skill in the research tool kit; it brings much-needed creativity to our work lives and to our research while at the same time helping to democratize knowledge and fulfilling our ethical responsibilities to share scholarship outside the academy.

Comics and animation not only are effective for communicating but also are excellent for thinking. They challenge us to clearly explain complex concepts and ideas, using words and images together to interweave multiple lines of evidence into coherent, compelling, and engaging visual narratives. These tools allow us to move academic knowledge into the hands and minds of diverse audiences, including policymakers, community partners, and other scholars, both in our own field and across disciplines.

We are scholars, artists, and students; we come together with an interest in engaging in research and teaching methods using visuals and graphic artwork. A review of recent literature and publication opportunities reveals that we are not alone in our interest in these formats as platforms for scholarly thinking, research, investigation, and teaching. These nontraditional media formats and their potential are reflected in our own discipline, such as in the creation of a new book series at the University of Toronto Press called Ethno/Graphic: Ethnography in Graphic Form. They are also gaining attention and prominence in other disciplines, such as the growing interest in graphic medicine in the medical and public-health fields ( and by scholars from diverse fields who are using arts-based research methods.

What follows are the longer pieces written by each contributor that are excerpted in the print journal. Click below to see each contribution.

Not a Mirror, But an Icon: Ethnographic Comic Art in Three Acts – Sally Campbell Galman

Completing the Journey: A Graphic Narrative about NAGPRA and Repatriation – Sonya Atalay and Jen Shannon

Learning How to Braid Knowledge through Visual Media – Sarah Jacqz, Erica Wolencheck, and Ryan Rybka

Graphic Violence: Unmasking Cultural Violence in the Classroom with Illustrated Nonfiction – Cary Speck

Drawing as a Mode of Translation – Letizia Bonanno

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