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From Site to Sight

From Site to Sight

Anthropology, Photography, and the Power of Imagery, Thirtieth Anniversary Edition

Melissa Banta, Curtis M. Hinsley

ISBN 9780873658676

Publication date: 10/16/2017

In 1986 the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard mounted From Site to Sight, a groundbreaking traveling exhibition on the historic and contemporary uses of photography in anthropology. Using visual materials from the vast photographic archives of the Peabody Museum and the work of members of Harvard’s anthropology department, the accompanying catalog investigates how anthropologists have employed the camera as a recording and analytic tool and as an aesthetic medium. Photographs ranging from daguerreotypes to satellite images are presented in an examination of the possibilities and limitations of using the camera as a fact-gathering and interpretive tool. The authors also explore the broader implications of the uses—and misuses—of visual imagery within the human sciences.

From Site to Sight has been a foundational text for scholars and students in the developing field of visual anthropology, illustrating the role of photographic imagery in anthropology and archaeology from the disciplines’ formative years to the 1980s. Long out of print, this classic publication is now available in an enhanced thirtieth anniversary edition with a new introductory essay by Ira Jacknis.


  • From Site to Sight, which made us understand what was at stake in photographic collections such as that at the Peabody Museum, has touched every subsequent scholar in the field and made new ones. With Ira Jacknis’s new, magisterial overview of research developments since the original publication and exhibition in 1986, this volume is a most welcome return of an old friend, looking as spry as ever.

    —Elizabeth Edwards, Professor Emeritus of Photographic History, De Montfort University


  • Melissa Banta is Projects Curator, Harvard Library, and Associate of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology.
  • Curtis M. Hinsley is Regents’ Professor, Emeritus, of American History at Northern Arizona University.
  • Joan Kathryn O’Donnell is Director, Peabody Museum Press, Harvard University.
  • C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky is Stephen Phillips Professor of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.
  • Ira Jacknis is Research Anthropologist, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley.

Book Details

  • 170 pages
  • 8-1/2 x 11 inches
  • Peabody Museum Press
  • With Joan Kathryn O’Donnell
  • Foreword by C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky
  • Introduction by Ira Jacknis