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SAA 88th Annual Meeting - Day 4 Recap

Updated: Apr 3

April 2nd 2023

Written by: Emma Chong

Day 4 was jam-packed. I went to a symposium right at 8am called Attending the Dead: Studies in Mortuary Archaeology. It was a very fascinating talk with many different topics. The ones that I found most interesting were the last two. One of them talked about the funerary practices in the southern Andes. The last talk was about archaeological investigations of a cemetery in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The speaker discussed that the cemetery contained troops from the civil war that were people of colour. Their goal was the preserve the cemetery, as it has suffered from many landslides, and help try and identify some of the individuals. I found this talk particularly fascinating as I believe that it combined archaeology with social justice. I would have liked to talk to the speaker afterwards, but I had to rush off to the next event and lost him in the process.

Next, I went to the poster sessions happening in the exhibit hall. There were multiple fascinating posters and presenters that I read through and talked to. On day 2, I made a friend from Niagara Falls (but who goes to Harvard for her undergraduate), so I stopped at her poster. It discussed the field school that she attended and talked about how much it impacted the students and their connection to Harvard as their excavations were held on campus. It was very interesting; they had an overwhelming amount of students who felt that they were much more connected to Harvard after participating in the field school.

Aside from this, there were a couple of underwater archaeology posters that were fascinating. Public and community archaeology was also a subject at the poster session, and I talked to a woman who was doing archaeological research in Maine. They were looking at previous excavations and reaching out to the Indigenous groups from the island to discuss some of the finds they made that they didn't know how to explain. Unsurprisingly, the Indigenous communities knew exactly what the finds were. It was interesting to see community engagement happening and working out.

Today was the last day for the exhibitors, so all of the books were crazy on sale as they don't want to ship them back. I spent some time meandering through the exhibitors again (even though I'd been through it so many times). I found multiple books that I wanted, but I waited till I went through every vendor before going back. THIS WAS A MISTAKE. They were gone by the time I circled back. It was too bad, but I still managed to buy two: one of shamans and the assumptions that white settlers made, and the other one was about animals in art in Crete.

In the afternoon, there was a CRM expo. Even though all of the companies were from the states, it was interesting to walk through. One of the questions that I kept asking was about their experience in hiring international students and what the vise process was like. It varied from company to company. The bigger companies (like Stantec and WSP) said it was pretty easy, and they had the proper communications and protocols in motion for it to happen. Smaller companies told me they had no experience in it, but they would get back to me. So it really depends. There was a company (for those interested in underwater archaeology) that was sending their maritime archaeology team to Saudi Arabia, which I found extremely fascinating. I also learned that WSP has one of the leading underwater archaeology teams in BC.

Another benefit of walking around all the stalls is the swag. I got so many pens, cold beverage holders, and small little things. For those who know Voodoo donuts, one company was even giving out donuts (which I grabbed very quickly). After that, I was pretty tired, so I went back to the hotel.

After a little downtime at the hotel, Seniha and I went back to the conference centre to go to the symposium on beer. This symposium was very fascinating. Two of the speakers were from Canada, VIU on the island and our very own SFU. Melissa Ayling, a master's student under Dr. Cathy D'Andrea, talked about her research on women in beer from the traditional Tigrayan area. The talk was cool, and it was nice to see someone from SFU. Outside our own university, I attended talks about the process and the role alcohol played in China presented by people of colour. It was interesting to hear research being done in the country that I'm from. Lastly, Marie Hopwood talked about the role of women in the process of Sweet Beer. It was fascinating and quite a poetic talk, and it's always nice to see people from Canada.

That was just about our whole day. We went out for amazing Mexican food for dinner, grabbed some voodoo donuts and headed back to the hotel to pack up and get ready for the drive home the next day! The conference has been an amazing experience. It was fun getting to talk to people from all over and make amazing connections. I was able to see my supervisors from my field school, and talk to other undergrads and graduate students about different programs. There were professors from schools giving advice about master's and PhD programs and applications. They tried to offer something for everyone. It was a good conference for a first-time attendee.

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