Society for American Archaeology Meeting 2010

Sadly, I am once again not attending the SAAs this year.  I have been trying to limit my conference participation (partially on the advice of my beloved advisor) and honestly, the SAAs just haven’t been quite as compelling in recent years as TAG and some of the other conferences.  That said, I did look through the conference panels (side note–what on EARTH happened to the SAA webpage?!  Horrible, horrible design and functionality!) and found a few that I’m really sad to be missing out on:


UNWAVERING: CULTURAL RESOURCE INVESTIGATIONS ALONG THE U.S. – MEXICO BORDER On April 1, 2008, the Secretary of Homeland Security waived over 30 environmental laws and regulations allowing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to construct tactical infrastructure along the U.S. – Mexico border without the constraints of cultural resource legislation. However, CBP and the Secretary were committed to cultural resource stewardship. Assisted by consulting professionals and U.S. Army Corps, CBP developed an internal cultural resource compliance process and completed surveys and mitigation studies from San Diego, California to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. Papers in this symposium present results from some of the investigations

I’ve been interested in the archaeology on the Texas/Mexico borderlands for quite some time, though I’m a little sad that not much in this session sounds very political, especially as Randy McGuire is the discussant.

SAA was founded 75 years ago during the Great Depression. That same year the newly created WPA—the major New Deal work relief program—funded the first of many significant excavations. Today, the US again faces major economic turmoil, and it is time to reconsider the legacy of New Deal archaeology. New Deal excavations continue to shape our understanding of the past as we invoke new technologies and new theoretical approaches to old collections. Archaeologists have also turned to excavating material remains of the New Deal itself. Join our exploration of the past, present, and future of New Deal archaeology.

I have a special place in my heart for WPA/New Deal aesthetics and history and would probably show up for a few papers in this session.  Some of them seem a bit particular and site-specific, but perhaps the case studies will be illuminating.

THE LIFE OF A PROJECT: NEGOTIATING THE PRACTICALITIES AND ETHICS OF COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH (SPONSORED BY INDIGENOUS POPULATIONS INTEREST GROUP) Our professional training as archaeologists rarely addresses the nuts-and-bolts of how one builds collaborative relationships with communities or deals with the ethical dilemmas that are unique to community-based research. This forum draws upon the experience of participants to discuss the basic strategies used to negotiate access, build community partnerships, and deal with the unanticipated challenges of collaboration. Particular attention will be given to the ethics of collaboration and how researchers navigate issues such as reconciling archaeological narratives with community narratives, and balance their professional integrity with their responsibility to the members of a community.

Sara and I chatted about this session way back during the WAC in Dublin and I’m really happy that she ran with it.



The role of perspective in constructing culture goes beyond the panopticon, but is suggested by it. Even before Foucault’s work and the widespread use of aerial and satellite remote sensing and GIS, archaeologists acknowledged the importance of surveillance in determining location, movement, and changing condition of resources, knowledge could be used to harvest, nurture, or defend these assets. Today, models of archaeological landscapes at many places in the world suggest that such benefits can be enhanced or undercut by relationships among people that are shaped by where, when, and how they can see and be seen.


CRITIQUING MICHAEL B. SCHIFFER AND HIS BEHAVIORAL ARCHAEOLOGY Over three decades ago (Schiffer 1972), Behavioral Archaeology was proposed to address the deficiencies of Processual Archaeology and thus complete the Kuhn-like paradigm shift in archaeology. Such a shift to Behavioral Archaeology, or any type of archaeology, never transpired as planned. Instead, Behavioral Archaeology has become but one of a number of players in an ever expanding theoretical landscape. What then has been the contribution of Behavioral Archaeology? A group of distinguished scholars, none of them self-identified Behavioral Archaeologists, have been assembled to assess the role of Michael B. Schiffer and his Behavioral Archaeology in the history of archaeological theory.

Everyone loves a good fight.


Three dimensional site/artifact modeling draws much attention in the field of archaeology. Advances in technology are opening this field up in new and exciting ways. The benefits of these models for presentation to a general audience are apparent, however, how these new and evolving technologies are being used to enhance academic research is less so? Moving beyond aesthetic modeling this session looks at how 3D models are creating testable interfaces. Papers will present various uses of three dimensional models to answer research questions; as well as comment on the methodological and theoretical developments that come with these developing analytical techniques.

There are also a few odd papers that I’d try to pick up on, like Kris Hirst’s God’s Truth and Public Archaeology: Would You Like Syrup with that Waffle? and another paper in that session, Blogs, Videos, and Volunteers: Some Lessons We Have Learned. I really need to organize that archaeology bloggers session for the SAAs in Sacramento next year.  Anyone interested?

Author: colleenmorgan

Dr. Colleen Morgan (ORCID 0000-0001-6907-5535) is the Lecturer in Digital Archaeology and Heritage in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York. She conducts research on digital media and archaeology, with a special focus on embodiment, avatars, genetics and bioarchaeology. She is interested in building archaeological narratives with emerging technology, including photography, video, mobile and locative devices. Through archaeological making she explores past lifeways and our current understanding of heritage, especially regarding issues of authority, authenticity, and identity.

4 thoughts on “Society for American Archaeology Meeting 2010”

  1. Do you know who is presenting in that panel on CRM at the border? I guess I can look it up…

    But from some of what I have heard, the projects around the San Diego area had their share of political issues.

    I am thinking about going, so maybe I can check this out and see what they have to say about this.


  2. Here’s the listing:

    Tina Carpenter and John Marshall—Shell and Earth Figures on the Northern Edge of the Sierra Pinacate

    Maren Hopkins and Douglas Craig—Uncovering the Prehistory of Southeastern Arizona: A Comparative Look at Upper San Pedro Village

    Robert Wegener, Karry L. Blake, William M. Graves and Richard Ciolek-Torrello— Data Recovery at Christiansen Border Village: Nonriverine Late Archaic/Early Agricultural Period Archaeology and Mid- to Late-Holocene Cienega Environments in the Borderlands of Southeastern Arizona

    Amie Gray—Refuge in the Borderlands Jeffrey Hokanson—Social Networking in Mimbres Society

    Tabitha L. Griffith, Nancy A. Kenmotsu and William Russell—Exploring Classic Period Mimbres Settlement along the Border: Excavations at Columbus Pueblo, Luna County, New Mexico

    Michael Church, James Gallison and Michael Jennings—Refining South Texas Prehistory—Excavation of 41SR392

    Randy McGuire—Discussant

    The way that the panel schedule and synopses are laid out it is really hard to cross-reference people with panels.

  3. I really need to organize that archaeology bloggers session for the SAAs in Sacramento next year. Anyone interested?

    Yes. Are non-archaeologists who blog about archaeology allowed?

  4. Wow, I don’t recognize a single name associated with the paper on the Starr County site (41SR392), and yet the former head of the TxDOT archaeology division is one of the presenters for the Luna County, New Mexico site. Weird.
    And you already asked, but I will do the blogger session. I’m going to be as informal as my blog though. The choice for me is jargon-free *wink*

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