President’s Message

The 90th Annual Southwestern Anthropological Association conference is coming up in a few weeks. We look forward to welcoming you to Garden Grove, California on April 19-20. I am excited to convene just down the road from my home institution, Cal State Fullerton. Finding a conference venue to accommodate the number of sessions and attendees we anticipate is no easy task—be sure to thank Local Arrangements Chair, Jonathan Karpf, for his hard work and attention to details when it comes to securing a hotel and conference center every year. The minutiae of physical details and conceptualizing room layouts may have been lost on me but I have long thought about Garden Grove as an important space for anthropologists interested in the diaspora, refugee politics and histories, food and identity, class, and community. Little Saigon was indeed an intentional choice. Southern California may seem legible at times but the complex layers that seem to perpetually unfold in this region require a lot of work to render as such. Our conference program is a reflection of this process—rendering legibility in the practice of anthropology.

Photo of Hyatt Regency Orange County

Vice President and Program Chair, Dr. Janet Page-Reeves (University of New Mexico), has put together an exciting program that reflects a diversity of critical anthropological research across the subfields while carefully threading the theme of legibility throughout these panels. The SWAA program includes a mix of organized sessions, films, and salon sessions including a collaborative project from students, faculty, and community members from California State University, Long Beach. In a salon session titled “Governance and Uncertainty: Navigating Homeless Outreach Services in Long Beach,” panelists will address “how policies and gaps in service create barriers to care.” The 2019 SWAA program also includes a professional development workshop, “Professional Pathways in Anthropology: From Classroom to Collections, Curation & Beyond,” featuring Laura Belani (Bowers Museum Collection Manager) and Trish Campbell (Exhibit Coordinator and Program Chair, Cal State Fullerton). This is an excellent opportunity for students and practicing anthropologists to ex- plore career options with two remarkable professionals. Lastly, our 2019 distinguished speaker, Dr. Sherine Hamdy (Associate Professor, University of California, Irvine) will give a lecture titled “Legibility through Comics: the making of “Lissa,” an ethnoGRAPHIC story.” I anticipate that the 2019 program will generate discussion, connections, and opportunities for students, faculty, and professional anthropologists and interdisciplinary peers.

Located near Little Saigon, our conference venue is just down the street from some of the best Vietnamese food in the U.S. Consider this conference an opportunity to meet new colleagues and explore the hundreds of restaurants that serve Vietnamese food beyond phở and bánh mì. There is plenty to discover in this historically significant, sprawling space and I recommend checking out the following resources and personal accounts of what Little Saigon means in contemporary southern California prior to your visit. Not surprisingly, the interconnections between food, identity, and history are strong in this community:

Cathy Chaplin, “There’s No Place Like Little Saigon,” EATER Travel (July 11, 2018):

Joy Hui Lin, “Brodard: An Empire Built on Nem Nuong,” KCET Food & Living:

I am looking forward to seeing everyone in person and I am truly excited to see the 2019 program unfold.
Until we meet in Garden Grove,

Sarah G. Grant, Ph.D.
SWAA President, 2018-2019
Assistant Professor of Anthropology California State University, Fullerton
Contact: Sarah G. Grant