At the 1999 Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Chicago this March, over 1,700 presentations (including formal presentations and discussions) will be made, offering an in-depth exposure to the many facets of contemporary archaeology. As you design your survey strategy to most efficiently sample the many papers and posters that will be featured, keep in mind the following:
(1) Last year, the change in presentation format from 20 to 15 minutes caught many presenters by surprise, causing them to retreat to their hotel room to spend an evening editing rather than imbibing and exchanging information. Some presentations, nevertheless, exceeded the allotted time and some sessions ran off schedule. The 15-minute presentation format continues this year. Presenters have been alerted to this fact and chairs have been specifically asked to keep their symposia and sessions on schedule.In the November SAA Bulletin, I called attention to the symposia celebrating the many accomplishments of several of the more productive members of our community. This time, let me highlight other attractions of the upcoming Annual Meeting. For one, throughout the three and a half days, there will be back-to-back symposia explicitly devoted to theoretical and paradigmatic issues in archaeology. Several of these, "One Hundred Years of Conspicuous Consumption" (James Boone and Lance Lundquist, organizers) and "Evolutionary Theory in Archaeology" (Douglas MacDonald, organizer) are offered as forums, where presenters, discussants, and audience share ideas in interactive discussion. As it has for the last several years, evolutionary theory will feature prominently in many of these sessions.
(2) The Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers was retained as the 1999 meeting venue some five years ago and it poses special challenges for this year's Annual Meeting. The number of meeting rooms is limited, and there are few small rooms to use for intimate discussions on specific topics. As well, SAA members have indicated (with their feet) that evening sessions are not desired. Thus, save for the Opening (Wednesday evening) and Plenary (Friday evening) sessions, no evening sessions have been scheduled. To accommodate the volume of papers submitted without scheduling evening sessions, other concessions were necessary. Except for Thursday, sessions run almost throughout the day with a minimal lunch break. This means you will want to eat a hearty breakfast and bring along your yogurt and banana so you needn't miss that paper that might change your research life forever.
In addition, there will be continuously running sessions on Mayan archaeology, Southwestern archaeology, Andean archaeology, Paleoindian archaeology, lithic studies, and, of course, the archaeology of the Midwest and Great Lakes. If one of these is your passion, you will be occupied Thursday morning through Sunday morning. Within each of these geographically or thematically organized sessions, the papers range from reports of basic data, to explorations of archaeological variation, to theoretical treatises.
A number of sessions will be of interest to members of the CRM community, including one forum devoted to funding, "Beyond Section 106: Public Funding Sources for Archaeology" (organized by Brona Simon); another to curation, "The Ethics of Curation" (organized by Hester Davis); and a third to policy revision, "Section 106 and Archaeology: Council Archaeologists Discuss how Select Issues will be Treated under Revised Regulations" (organized by Tom McCulloch). See also the session "Delivering Archaeological Information Electronically," organized by Mary S. Carroll and Harrison Eiteljorg II.
Other sessions tackle important issues of archaeological data collection, given the buried nature of the archaeological record in the American Midwest. For example, Rinita Dalan and Subir Banerjee have organized a forum on "Soil Magnetism and its Application to Archaeological Research." At the other end of the scale, Payson Sheets and Jame Wiseman have empaneled a forum on remote sensing. See also the Fryxell Symposium (organized by Bonnie Blackwell), which will honor the work of Henry P. Schwarcz. "The Final Frontier or Lost in Space?: Data Quality and Archaeological Spatial Analysis," organized by Clay Mathers, explores critical aspects of data quality.
The Student Affairs Committee has put together several workshops that promise to be very stimulating. One, "Communication and Consultation: Working Toward an Informed Archaeology," focuses on working with Native Peoples and draws upon the insights of Native archaeologists and archaeologists who have worked closely with Native communities. The second, "Archaeology for the Masses: A Workshop in Publishing and Presenting in the Public Domain," considers communication with the public across a variety of media, again drawing on colleagues who have contributed most in this area.
As a reminder, the Opening Session (Wednesday evening) will spotlight the archaeology of the Great Lakes and Midwest, especially focusing on mound archaeology and its interpretation. I am grateful to Bill Green and Mark Lynott for putting together this session, which will allow us to become reacquainted with the issues of mound archaeology in the Midwest and current in their interpretation. The Plenary Session, which follows the Annual Business Meeting and Awards Presentation on Friday evening, examines the intellectual legacies of archaeological thought emanating from Chicago over the last many decades. Special thanks to Mark Lycett and Kathy Morrison, who have recruited the purveyors and players who will consider these legacies in detail.
It is impossible to overview here each of the 112 symposia and 56 general sessions that will be featured at this year's Annual Meeting. Suffice it to say that whatever your archaeological interest, there will be at least one and likely many sessions to satisfy.
Of course, the Annual Meeting is more than just posters and presentations. Don't forget the Roundtable Luncheons. Eighteen Roundtable Luncheons, scheduled for Thursday noon, will offer a chance to explore specific topics with others similarly engaged by that topic. The Roundtable Luncheons will cover a wide variety of themes, from how to facilitate communication between archaeologists in the private and government sectors, to how to design an archaeological survey, to discussions on museum collection management. On Saturday morning, the SAA Committee on the Status of Women in Archaeology will be hosting a series of roundtable breakfasts that focus on professional issues of interest to women in archaeology.
Other highlights include the Reception for Students, New Members, First-time Attendees, and Committee Members slated for Wednesday evening. Come and meet colleagues with whom you hopefully will be spending the next 50 years. And, the Committee on the Status of Women in Archaeology extends an invitation to all women in archaeology to join them at a reception Friday.
And don't forget the Awards Presentation and Annual Business Meeting, scheduled for 5:00 pm on Friday afternoon. Come here to learn how your Society operates and how you might make a difference. Traditionally, the business meeting provides a forum at which the state of the organization is reviewed. It is here also that the contributions volunteered by many SAA members are acknowledged.
In sum, the 1999 Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology promises to be an intellectual feast and more. Come to the Windy City and you will be blown away!
LuAnn Wandsnider, chair of the 1999 Annual Meeting Program Committee, is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.