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SAA 88th Annual Meeting - Day 2 Recap

Updated: Apr 1, 2023

March 31st 2023

Written by: Kayreen Dizon

Our second day in Portland started at 7:30 where we quickly got ready and then grabbed

some (overpriced) hotel breakfast. Julian, Emma, and I then got to the Hyatt Hotel (the secondary building for events) to make it in time for the Bioarchaeology Interest Group Mentoring Event. For those that don’t know, interest groups are specialized groups that members can join to get the chance to meet and interact with other archaeologists that hold the same specialized interests. This event had 6 sessions that were chaired by professional bioarchaeologists, and we had the chance to hear some first-hand experiences, get some tips, network, and ask some questions about our possible futures in bioarchaeology. The sessions were: Networking, Ethics and Community Engagement, Academic Job Market, Research Design

and Fieldwork, Jobs Outside Academia, and Applying to Grad Programs. While I wasn’t able to sit in at all of the tables, the ones that I did get to listen to were really interesting! It was definitely an event that helped me get a stronger feel for bioarchaeology and how I wan to continue pursuing it in the future! After that, we went to see Damon and his poster! (Everyone should ask him about his research because it is so cool!).

Since we had a bit of a break and were dangerously low on food, we took an essential trip to Trader Joe's, where Emma and Seniha freaked out about the cheap cost of wine for half an hour (justifiably so). Once we got back to the conference, Seniha, Levi, and I attended a forum that we were very excited for. It was co-chaired by John Hoopes and Flint Dibble and titled: Faking It and Making It: Engaging with Pop Culture Threats to Archaeology. It was also my first “celebrity” archaeologist encounter because Anna Goldfield from The Dirt podcast and Kenny Feder were both participants in this forum! While a lot of it was focused on the recent controversy on Graham Hancock’s Ancient Apocalypse and pseudoarchaeology overall (all of which was very interesting and brought in a lot of good points), other participants discussed the need for multidisciplinary practice in archaeology, public outreach directed to children, and the negative effects of online interactions against pseudoscientists. It was definitely a talk worth listening to, and I would have loved to listen to it all day.

Later that afternoon, we attended a student diversity meet & greet. Well, was definitely something. We attended this event hoping to network with other students of marginalized communities, and while they were great to talk to and the organizers were interesting, there were some issues.

  • First of all, they were all white. At the networking event for minorities.

  • Second, after they all introduced themselves, it was clear that they were all from the same institutions and working on projects together, generally a very tight-knit group.

  • Finally, they were very vocal about trying to recruit students to join their graduate programs.

From all of that, it was glaringly obvious that the organizers set up this event to find students that would add more diversity to their student populations. It definitely did not seem like their primary focus was to create a safe space for diverse students to connect, but instead was organized to have easy access to prospective minority students. Once we realized that, we were very annoyed and angry at how used we felt and left. Although the intention for this event did not seem to match its purpose, we got to connect with the many great students that attended.

Next, we headed back to the convention centre to attend the Interest Group Fair and Posters After Hours in the main Exhibit Hall. The Interest Group Fair had tables with organizers of the numerous interest groups letting people know about their group. Posters After Hours was a very relaxed event with a lot of presenters showing off their pretty posters and talking about their research. Throughout the rest of the week, this hall also holds everything archaeology. There are tables selling practical field equipment, others with new field tech, some university booths, and of course, tables on tables of books being sold at very discounted prices! It was honestly very overwhelming, but I found that taking it slow and not rushing and not worrying about meeting people made it a lot more doable. Since those were the last events of the day, we all headed back to the hotel where we got ready to grab some dinner. We found this amazingly cheap restaurant that was some of the greatest Mexican food I have ever had. For context, I bought four tacos and a horchata for $14.50. So if any of you are in Portland, I highly recommend going to Ole Ole Taqueria on Burnside! (I will 100% be going back before we leave) After this huge meal, we had to walk it off and ended up at the Portland classic, Voodoo Donuts. Once we got back to the hotel, it became a night of movies and a lot of rest for tomorrow! Also a quick reference to Julian’s blog post on our first day here, we noticed yesterday that everyone seemed to be dressed very casually, but today everyone was more semi-casual and what you would expect in a conference. Just a little note for all those that may be anxious about what to wear to this (AKA me and Julian).

The first (official) day was definitely a lot for us, and I’m sure that it will stay like that for the rest of the week, but I learned so much in just this one day that I am so excited to hear more about my interests in archaeology!

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