Jeffrey Himpele

Director, VizE Lab for Ethnographic Data Visualization;
Lecturer in Anthropology
(609) 258-8158
Email Address:
Office Location: 
319 Aaron Burr Hall
Office Hours: 
Wednesday: 2:00 pm-3:30 pm

And by appointment.

Teaching (Fall 2017)
Forensic Anthropology and Epigenetics in Urban America (ANT 309A/ STC 310A)


PhD, Princeton University (1996)


Visual anthropology and documentary filmmaking; media, sound and data; capitalism and commodification; indigenous media and politics; Bolivia and the Andes.

VizE Lab Start-up
Jeff directs the Anthropology Department’s new VizE Lab, an innovative hub for researchers interested in visualizing anthropological knowledge through film and data visualization. VizE Lab unites resources for combining methods of qualitative ethnography, including documentary filmmaking, with the tools of quantitative data analysis and visualization. This new hybrid lab consists of an online platform for the storage, analysis, collaboration, and dissemination of ethnographic data as well as a vibrant interdisciplinary meeting space where scholars can workshop their projects, learn new techniques, collaborate, and reflect on the new and old forms of data and media that are shaping the future of ethnographic inquiry and practices.  

Research and Filmmaking
Jeff is author of Circuits of Culture: Media, Politics, and Indigenous Identity in the Andes, a book based on several years of field research in La Paz, Bolivia. His book and other publications have studied the cultural dynamics of film circulation, the televisualization of political populism, the performance of capitalism and spectacle among cholos (urban indigenous middle class), and the indigenization of both filmmaking and national politics. 

His prize-winning ethnographic and documentary films have been recognized with awards from the American Anthropological Association and the Royal Anthropological Institute. His films explore the intersecting regimes of knowledge, visuality and tourism, and heritage politics at archaeology sites in Bolivia and Mexico. Incidents of Travel in Chichen Itza was named as one of the 50 most important films for teaching anthropology. His current work in progress is Men of Steel, a musical documentary on the adventures of the steel guitar from its beginnings in Hawaii to the honky-tonks of country music and beyond.   

Jeff has served the American Anthropological Association as Editor for the Visual Anthropology section of American Anthropologist (2001-2006) and as Program Editor for the Visual Anthropology section of the Annual AAA Meetings (2000-2001). He also served two terms in various roles on the Board of Directors of the Society for Visual Anthropology (1999-2005, ex officio 2005-2007). 

Jeff teaches courses on media, sound and visual anthropology. In his teaching, he uses innovative techniques for incorporating digital video editing and visualization tools to engage students in close-up cultural and media analysis, and as vehicles for students to create and represent their own knowledge. In fall 2017, he is teaching the social analysis section (A) of ANT 309, Forensic Anthropology in Urban America. In spring 2018, he will teach Transcultural Cinema.

Previous Positions
Before joining the Anthropology Department in 2016, Jeff was Director of Teaching Initiatives and Programs for the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning. As a director in McGraw for 9 years, he oversaw the pedagogy programs for faculty and graduate students as well as Princeton’s initiative online education, which included innovative projects for hybrid online-classroom teaching. Before moving to Princeton in 2007, he was a professor in the Anthropology Department at NYU, where he received the University’s “Golden Dozen Teaching Award.” At NYU, he taught courses on capitalism, culture and media as well as the year-long seminar in documentary video production for the Graduate Program in Culture and Media, also housed within Anthropology. 

Anthropology News Jan 2011 cover Circuits of Culture book cover Visual Anthropology 2003 cover Media Worlds cover Visual Anthropology Review 1996 cover

men of Steel postcard Incidents of Travel in Chichen Itza cover

Taypi Kala title

Publications List: 



Circuits of Culture:  Media, Politics and Indigenous Identity in the Andes, (2008) University of Minnesota Press.



"Making a Film About a Sound: The Steel Guitar from Hawaii to the Honky-Tonk," (2011) Anthropology News, 52(1): 5-6.

“Reimagining Globality: Toward An Anthropological Physics,” (2006, co-author Francis Mascia-Lees) Anthropology News, 47(5): 9,11.

"Packaging Indigenous Media: An Interview with Ivan Sanjines and Jesus Tapia," (2004) American Anthropologist, 106(2): 354-363.

"The Gran Poder and the Social Movement of the Aymara Middle Class," (2003) Visual Anthropology, 16(2-3): 207-243.

"Arrival Scenes: Complicity and Media Ethnography in the Bolivian Public Sphere," (2002) in Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain. Edited by Faye Ginsburg, Lila Abu-Lughod, and Brian Larkin. Berkeley: University of California Press. Pgs. 301-316.

"Guidelines for the Evaluation of Ethnographic Visual Media: AAA Statement on Ethnographic Film," (2001, co-author Peter Biella) American Anthropologist 104(1): 303-6.

"Transcultural Cinema: Essays by David MacDougall," (1999) American Anthropologist, 101(4): 836-837. Book review.

"Film Distribution as Media: Mapping Difference in the Bolivian Cinemascape," (1996) Visual Anthropology Review, 12(1): 63-77.

"Transnational Fiesta: 1992," (1995) Visual Anthropology Review, vol. 11(2): 107-109. Film review.



Men of Steel, (work in progress, co-producer Martin Muse).

Incidents of Travel in Chichen Itza, (1997, co-producer Quetzil Castañeda) Documentary Educational Resources. 

Taypi Kala: Six Visions of Tiwanaku, (1994) University of California.