Highlights from the 2012 Meeting

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Kostalena Michelaki


San Francisco 2012: Highlights from the meetings

San Francisco was vibrant, colourful and quirky in late November as thousands of anthropologists from around the world came together to present their work and discuss their theories, methods, practices and insights at the SF Union Square Hilton.

Nearly 250 archaeological papers were presented, distributed in 36 sessions from Wednesday to Sunday afternoons. Two hundred and twelve papers were presented in 29 organized sessions, 37 papers in 7 general sessions, and 8 papers in two poster sessions. The Archeology Division (AD) sponsored a total of three sessions (23 papers), co-sponsoring two of those with the Council for Museum Anthropology (CMA). Many more sessions with themes of great interest to archaeologists (eg, identity, landscapes, children and childhood, embodiment, material culture and materiality) took place every day of the conference.

Archaeologists were aided greatly this year in navigating their way around the multitude of interesting and creative sessions at the meetings by the postings on the AD Facebook page. A list of all the archaeology sessions was posted there ahead of the meetings and each day it was updated, highlighting only the sessions taking place that very day.

Check out our page on Facebook (Archaeology Division of the American Anthropological Association) and ‘Like’ us to stay connected with our division throughout the year. Besides lists of the archaeology sessions at the AAA meetings, you will also find announcements for the deadlines of the Student Diversity Travel Award and the Student Membership Award, as well as interesting news (eg, about the recipients of the Gordon R Willey Prize, the Alfred Vincent Kidder Award and the Patty Jo Watson Distinguished Lecturer).

Friday night was particularly exciting. During the AD business meeting Eric Blinman (member-at-large practicing professional), Katie V Kirakosian (student member-at-large), Jason Yaeger (nominations chair-elect) and Kostalena Michelaki (secretary) were welcomed as the new board members, while Mark N Levine became the new program editor for archaeology. Christian Wells (secretary 2010-12), Anna S Agbe Davies (program editor for archaeology 2010-12) and Carrie E Todd (student member-at-large 2010-12) were thanked for their service. Among a very enthusiastic crowd, Kathryn Weedman Arthur received the Willey Prize for her innovative American Anthropologist article “Feminine knowledge and skill reconsidered: Women and flaked stone tools.”

Once the president, treasurer, publications director and nominations committee chair had all given a brief report on the current affairs of our division, there was the opportunity to meet new members, and catch up with old friends over a sumptuous buffet of hors d’oeuvres and ample aperitifs. The reception is an ideal setting for students to meet with other students, professors and practicing archaeologists, as it is always informal, inclusive, tasty and free!

Satiated with good food, drink and conversation, we were able to enjoy an incredible lecture by Susan Gillespie, the 2012 Patty Jo Watson Distinguished Lecturer. Rich in detail, and impressive in temporal and spatial span, her analysis followed the rise of Mesoamerica, focusing on the entanglement of jade with other materials, artifacts, landscapes and people. The evening ended late with everyone coming together after the lecture over more food and drinks, talking excitedly about the lecture we had just heard and thinking about next year’s meetings.

Reviewing 2012 and Looking ahead into 2013

In 2012 the AD offered two Student Diversity Travel Awards and 15 Student Membership Awards. We will continue to encourage students to be involved and participate in the AAAs and the AD in particular, advertising the awards early and in a variety of places (eg, both our official and our Facebook pages).

In the last couple of years our membership has been declining, a trend which is also affecting our assets. Although there are some possible signs of recovery, the AD board will continue its dynamic efforts to reach more members within and beyond the AAA improving the quantity and quality of our digital presence, offering access to the AP3A publications, building stronger ties with national and international archaeological associations, such as the Society for American Archaeology (SAA), the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) and the World Archaeological Congress (WAC), sponsoring sessions at both the AAA and the SAA meetings and continuing to offer a free reception during the annual business meeting and the Patty Jo Watson distinguished lecture.

There are several volumes in the pipeline for the very successful AP3A, with two anticipated in 2013. New procedures will be in place shortly for consideration of future volumes, reducing the size of the prospectus authors currently submit and focusing instead more attention on the completed manuscript for final acceptance. Finally, although the board unanimously decided to not pursue an open access publication path for the time being, they are already considering the future of AP3A  after 2017, when the contract with Wiley-Blackwell will expire. As always, if you are using papers from AP3A volumes for your courses, please remember to provide your students with links to  the papers on Anthrosource and not with PDFs. Each download generates revenue for the Archeology Division and enables our continuous and dynamic presence in the AAA.

Kostalena Michelaki is the Archeology Division secretary and an associate professor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. Send her your questions,  news, essays and comments at: kmichela@asu.edu.

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