I want to start my first President’s Message with a thank you to everyone who made the 89th Annual Conference of the Southwestern Anthropological Association (SWAA) in Fresno possible. Simply put, the conference would not have been a success without the creative input of the Executive Board and the volunteer efforts of students and other participants. I hope everyone enjoyed the meetings and Fresno as much as I did. There are far too many people who deserve thanks than I can possibly list here but I hope you know who you are – planning and executing a conference is often a thankless task and want to be sure that all those involved are appreciated.
Before I look forward to our 90th Annual Conference of SWAA I want to reflect on some of the panels, conversations, and programs I had the pleasure of participating in during the Fresno conference. Prior to the start of the conference, I had the pleasure of visiting Hank Delcore’s (Board Chair) senior seminar class at CSU, Fresno to share some of my own recent research and methodological approaches to multi-sited work. I left the classroom with a renewed sense of optimism about the future of our discipline and the critical thinkers we are training. I was happy to see many of the same students enthusiastically participating in salon sessions and conference related programming throughout the weekend.
The disadvantage of having a full program with concurrent sessions is that I found myself jumping from session to session in an effort to see a wide swath of papers. It was important for me to see many of the abstracts I had reviewed over the previous months come to fruition in presentation form. Although I missed much of what I wished to hear and see, I managed to experience some great posters, panels, and individual papers. I was especially excited to see the CSU, Fresno students working under Dr. John Pryor present their nascent archaeological findings in poster form. The eagerness of these students to share their research and think about the larger context of their work should serve as a reminder to faculty that the scholarship and experience we impart is not bounded by an academic calendar or classroom. Dr. Devra Saxton (CSU, Fresno) organized two salon sessions that brought together faculty and students alike to talk about social justice across the food system and creative platforms like zines. I was inspired by many of the pedagogical innovations and creative ways Dr. Saxton encourages her students to think about the discipline of cultural anthropology as inherently engaged, political, and timely.
Lastly, it was an honor to hear Dr. Yolanda Moses share her perspective on the current state of race in the U.S., what the future may hold, and the role of anthropologists within this complex landscape.
Lastly, if there was ever any question about “selling” Fresno as a conference destination, I suspect many of the conference attendees are officially sold. Of course, we had the advantage of programming that allowed us to do what it is we do in anthropology – see the world from our own respective positions and experiences while enjoying a carefully curated list of local, community-based and historically significance businesses curated by the CSU, Fresno students. I look forward to the next occasion I find myself in Fresno.
Thinking forward to our 2019 conference, I would like to welcome our new board members and those who have shifted into new positions. Dr. Janet Page-Reeves (Vice President), Dr. Henry Delcore (Board Chair), and Dr. Hilarie Kelly (Social Media) will all serve the Executive Board well and I look forward to working with everyone in the coming year.
If you were able to attend the banquet in May, you might recall that the 2019 conference theme is “legibility.” By foregrounding legibility as a concept, I hope to encourage our participants to think through legibility in a way that helps us better understand what it means to decipher and make someone or something “clear enough to read” (i.e. legible). The 2019 SWAA Annual Conference takes on the task of expanding and thinking through legibility with original and critical anthropological and anthropology-allied research. I also encourage potential participants to think about what it means to make our research legible through our scholarly production and pedagogy and what it means to make our discipline legible to a broader public through collaboration and other creative means. Expect the final conference title and call for papers in the Fall newsletter and posted here on the website.
Save the Dates! April 19-20, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency Garden Grove