President’s Message

Janet Reeves photoGreetings!

I’m sure all who attended will agree that the SWAA conference that we held in April in Garden Grove was a huge success. Many thanks to all the volunteers who donated their time, and to the SWAA Board members who worked to organize and coordinate the many activities that went in to planning and executing the event. And, I would particularly like to thank Past President Dr. Sara Grant for her thoughtful idea for a conference theme of “legibility” and for her extensive efforts to bring students and volunteers to the conference. This theme provoked the submission of exceptional presentations and posters, and I was struck at how the concept of legibility provided a connective thread for diverse approaches, topics, and perspectives. The panels were outstanding. Keynote speaker, Dr. Sherine Hamdy, gave us an amazing insight into the use of graphic novels as a method for presenting ethnographic stories and making anthropology more accessible to a broader audience. Her work on kidney and liver disease in Egypt and the experiences she recounted of developing a graphic “ethnofictional” work were inspiring.

The 2020 SWAA Conference will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 24 and 25. The conference theme will be “Community, Culture, and Wellbeing.” This theme is intended to foreground the ways that these concepts influence the health of individuals, communities, and populations. As anthropologists, we understand and recognize the quotidian ways that wellness is enacted and well-being is promoted in different cultural and contextual settings. Defining wellness and well-being requires a broad lens that considers culture, community, and context. Anthropologists are well situated to this work. We are particularly interested in sub-missions that use an assets-based approach acknowledging positive dimensions of these dynamics. In this era of negativity and toxicity that tends to define both public narratives as well as the way we think about the world, capturing and reclaiming a vision of the ways that generative and healing relationships and processes exist in the areas we study is important not only for the people and communities we work with, but also in terms of ensuring a holistic understanding of reality.

Having the conference outside of California is somewhat novel in the last several years [since Reno, 2010 and 2011, and Las Vegas 2009] but I know that you will find Albuquerque to be a wonderful venue. We have chosen the historic Hotel Albuquerque as the site of the conference. This will make for a beautiful setting for the reception and banquet, and even the rooms where we will have the panels have character. The Hotel is located in Albuquerque’s Old Town, a 2-minute walk to shops, restaurants and museums. The Albuquerque Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Explora! Children’s Museum are all excellent, and the zoo, the aquarium and the bio park gardens are a 5-minute drive. For all of you Jesse and Walt fans, you can take a streetcar “Breaking Bad” tour right from the hotel parking lot. And UNM has the small but amazing Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. Santa Fe is less than an hour away and there is a light rail RoadRunner train that can take you. And there is no limit to the amazing things to see, do, or hike to.

We will be releasing the call for abstracts in the fall and open the portal for submissions in January. Please mark your calendars, as I am sure that you already have interesting and stimulating ideas for your submissions!!

Janet Page-Reeves
SWAA President, 2019-2020
University of New Mexico