Greetings and welcome! It is my pleasure to address you as President of the Southwestern Anthropological Association for 2017-2018. SWAA plays an important role in the landscape of the discipline of anthropology, and I am honored to work, along with many others, at keeping the association vibrant and healthy.
When I describe SWAA to new people, I reference our standing as the major regional professional association for anthropologists in the West and Southwest. I highlight our history and our present day service to the discipline, most importantly, the annual conference we host every spring. I also emphasize that we are an organization that strives for a rigorous and welcoming approach to scholarly work. When the SWAA board makes decisions, we make them with an eye to the interests of faculty, practicing, and student anthropologists from a wide diversity of institutions. The annual conference features outstanding original research by professionals and advanced students alike, delivered in an academic but collegial environment. I feel privileged to lead an organization that is successfully fulfilling this need for an excellent regional outlet for scholarly work in anthropology.
Submit an Abstract; Consider a Salon Session
Many fine scholars presented their work at the 2017 conference in San Jose, but I will highlight a few sessions that represent a significant shift in conference format. Two years ago, SWAA Past President and Chair, Dr. Erin Stiles (University of Nevada, Reno), and I piloted the “salon session.” In a salon session, presenters make short comments (~5 minutes) followed by discussion that is responsive to audience interests, and more thoughts from the presenters as needed. SWAA 2017 was the first conference in which we opened the salon format up to proposals from all SWAA participants. The result was overwhelmingly positive. Dr. Sarah Grant (CSU-Fullerton), accompanied by several students from CSU-Fullerton, led a very insightful discussion about contemporary issues in visual anthropology (more on Dr. Grant below). SWAA President (now Past President) Dr. A.J. Faas (San Jose State University), with the 2017 distinguished speaker, Dr. Susanna Hoffman, and several colleagues, explored the parameters of the possible in disaster and environmental crisis research. I was personally able to attend two salon sessions featuring new research and praxis around design anthropology and gaming. Both sessions saw intensely interactive engagement among presenters and audience, with so many shared issues and interests on the table that they ran out of time and had to continue their discussions at the reception, banquet, and other social events of the conference. I am grateful to past leaders of SWAA who have made this non-traditional approach to conference presentation part of our conference tradition. When you consider submitting an abstract for SWAA 2018, please consider a salon format.
SWAA has enjoyed some excellent leadership over the years. For example, during his tenure as President in 2016-17, current Past President, Dr. A.J. Faas, introduced a number of innovations to the organization and conference that I intend to help institutionalize. Prof. Jonathan Karpf (San Jose State University) is currently our Board Chair and Local Arrangements Chair. Jonathan is also a Past President, and along with other long-serving board members, he brings a wealth of SWAA and conference experience to our efforts. Though I am tempted to continue to call out the names of all the faculty and students who have made SWAA a success in recent years, I will say this instead: get involved with SWAA and see for yourself! Please feel free to contact me if you want to find out more about the role you might play in the organization or conference.
SWAA 2018: A New Vice President and Big Plans for Fresno
On to SWAA 2018! I served as Program Chair for the 2017 conference and in San Jose, a number of people thanked me for the program. But the truth is that the success of the program hinges on the submissions and presentations of scholars and students from around the Southwest and beyond. They (you!) are the ones who make SWAA a success. That said, the job of Program Chair does carry some important responsibilities and a large commitment of time and energy throughout the year. The Program Chair not only reviews all abstracts, but also arranges individual papers into panels, and constructs a program that makes both practical and scholarly sense. Given these important responsibilities, I am thrilled that Dr. Sarah Grant (CSU-Fullerton) has taken up the role of SWAA Vice President and Program Chair for the 2018 conference. Dr. Grant does research on the economics and culture of commodities, especially focused on coffee in Vietnam. She joined the faculty of CSU-Fullerton in fall, 2015, and her colleagues there describe her as an invaluable addition to the campus. Judging from her salon session, her students have certainly gained a valuable source of knowledge and support. Congratulations, Sarah: I am excited to work with you this year!
If you were at the SWAA banquet in San Jose, you will know that I am very excited to bring the conference to Fresno. The theme this year is, Humanity: The Mediated Species. I know that SWAA participants will respond to the forthcoming call for papers (fall, 2017) with the same high quality abstracts and ideas they have submitted in the past. In addition to the program, the conference will include many opportunities to experience the political, cultural, natural, and gastronomic landscapes of Fresno and its surroundings. I write to you from the triple digit heat of Fresno, CA, in July. However, when the SWAA conference comes here in spring, 2018, the weather should be much milder: typically, 50s to 80s. That will make excellent weather for visiting the astounding natural sites of Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks. Also, Fresno State anthropology faculty and students are preparing an ethnographic food map and mural tour of Fresno as part of the conference. We have several other emerging features in the works to make SWAA 2018 intellectually exciting and just plain fun. Enjoy the rest of the summer and watch for the SWAA 2018 CFP, coming this fall!
Henry D. (Hank) Delcore, Ph.D.
Professor of Anthropology
California State University, Fresno
In anticipation of SWAA 2018, learn more about the controversial politics of public art in Fresno. Please check out this story of racism and erasure from May, 2017: