And suddenly, it was April. This past weekend was the Society for California Archaeology Annual Meeting down in (somewhat) sunny San Diego. From across the state, archaeologists descended upon the Town and Country Resort to hear what their colleagues have been up to for the last year.
The meeting began Thursday night with the opening remarks and Plenary Session. The Plenary Session’s topic was Genealogy, Theory and Practice in California Archaeology. Society members spoke about their theoretical and practical genealogies – about where and from whom they learned this trade we call archaeology. Everyone’s trajectory into where they are now varies a great deal, but one thing is common throughout – the circumstances of our learning shapes us in many ways that you might not think about until asked to speak about. It seemed like a few of the speakers learned a lot more about themselves through this explorative exercise than they thought they would. This is the case whenever the lens gets turned back onto the one normally looking out through it. Exercises like this are good to reground and understand literally where you are coming from, what framework you are working in. It is through understanding this that we may understand others and potentially avoid major schisms, because once you understand where someone is coming from, you tend to take what they have to say on a different level, and try to make sense of it rather than throw it out with the bath water just because you disagree initially.
Friday the main sessions and symposia began with, as usual, a wide variety of topics to choose from. Anywhere from current research on the archaeology of fishing in California to archaeology of the Great Basin and Eastern California and on to the mysteries of San Diego’s Presidio. I was at the registration desk Friday morning, making sure attendees got their badges, the schedule, and their special event tickets before releasing them into the conference. Friday night was the special event everyone looks forward to (I’d say the most) – The Reception and Silent Auction! This year it was held at the San Diego Museum of Man in Balboa Park, and I hear it was a real hoot. The socialization of archaeologists who may not have seen each other since last year in a museum with food, drink, and cool items to bid on is really something to experience.
Saturday continued the major sessions and symposia with topics ranging from the Fort Ross Bicentenary to Contributions to Southern California and Channel Island Research in Honor of Dr. Andy Yatsko and on to a symposium put together by one of my fellow grad students at SSU (now a MA holder) on the Diverse Research in a Diverse Region: Studies in Northern California Archaeology and CRM. Saturday also included the general poster session in the book room, with many, many topics covered. The Student Affairs Committee held their student meeting and mixer, which I attended and felt was really valuable. During the student meeting, the Padons told us about the California Archaeological Site Stewardship Program (CASSP) and how the volunteer stewardship work is a great way to get experience for those without, and Anmarie Medin from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) explained the process for getting a job as an archaeologist with Caltrans. The formal banquet was held Saturday night, with Ian Hodder as the guest speaker. He gave a talk on entanglement theory, which is the topic of his forthcoming book.
The half-day Sunday of any conference is always a bit of a wrap up day, but there were still many interesting talks that morning. A lot of the historical archaeology presentations were held, along with Island and coastal archaeology, and the archaeology of Southern California. As everyone went their separate ways to start heading back home, words of farewell and the promises of emailing this or that article filled the air… until next time!