Annual Meeting

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and cancellation of the 2020 Annual Meeting some participants have chosen to publish their papers with us online. Click on the link below to view submissions.

2020 Virtual Meeting



81ST Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology
March 23-27, 2021
Mark Edberg, Program Chair

Norfolk, Virginia, exemplifies how local communities and polities are linked to multiple social, cultural, and physical ecologies.  It is part of the larger Hampton Roads metropolitan area that includes the cities of Virginia Beach and Newport News, VA. The area contains one of the world’s largest natural harbors, where the Elizabeth, Nansemond, James, and other rivers empty into the Chesapeake Bay and then the Atlantic Ocean.  As a major coastal watershed, Hampton Roads is highly vulnerable to climate change, which could affect coastal and marine ecosystems as well as the significant and growing tourist economy of Virginia Beach.  Shipping and shipyards are major industries, which are subject to the vagaries and fluctuations of global markets, with resulting impacts on local communities.  The region is home to a major naval base (Naval Station Norfolk), a major air base (Langley Air Force Base in Hampton), a significant shipyard (Newport News Shipyard), and a railroad terminal for coal to be shipped from the harbor to global markets.  Hampton Roads has a deep history, reflected in the major colonial historical sites of Williamsburg and Jamestown and Hampton University, a historically black college/university.  Its cultural richness is also manifest in historic African-American communities, a growing migrant Latinx population (including an influx of Puerto Ricans after the hurricanes), and nearby Nottoway and Nansemond indigenous communities.  Norfolk and the Hampton Roads area are situated within the Tidewater region of southeastern Virginia and parts of North Carolina, which has been called one of America’s eleven distinct cultural regions. 

Norfolk is therefore an ideal setting for anthropologists and other social scientists to engage in broad and multivalent analyses that integrate people, geography, and sociopolitical structures in domestic or international settings.  What tools and methods can we offer to link these multiple spheres of action?  Are local, global, and geographic factors implicated in economic precarity and health disparities?  Has social science adequately addressed health issues relevant to military populations, including family stress, trauma, PTSD, and veterans’ health?  If major social and economic nodes draw new populations into an area, how do they interact with groups that have been there for generations?  How is immigration associated with community change?  In what ways are different populations and economic interests treating the imminent threat of climate change?  Are local cultures and languages being preserved in communities reshaped by global forces and trends?  How do constructions and discourses of race and ethnicity play out in the interplay of social, cultural, and physical ecologies?  

Tuesday, the first day of the meeting, will focus on Hampton Roads and surrounding areas, and will include sessions on such topics as: local responses to climate change; military health; labor migration and the interaction of migrants with longstanding populations; the impact of global markets and politics on local economies; the ramifications of tourism; and how the region’s deep historical roots intertwine with contemporary trends and representations. 

Program Chair, Mark Edberg, George Washington University (, 202-994-3584

Annual Meeting Program Coordinator: Don Stull (; 785-764-8967

Society for Applied Anthropology (; 405-843-5113



The Society for Applied Anthropolgy has invited cognate professional associations to join as co-sponsors in the Annual Meeting. Those groups who have accepted the invitation are now working actively with the Program Chair on the content of the sessions. The groups include:

The Council on Nursing and Anthropology (CONAA) is an organization that brings together nurses, anthropologists and others interested in understanding and promoting the health of peoples and cultures around the world through research and practice innovations. Common interests of CONAA members are basic and applied health research, improved health care for vulnerable populations, and encouraging cultural and social justice content in education and research. CONAA holds yearly business meetings at SfAA followed by informal receptions for networking and mutual support. For more information about CONAA, visit or email Karen Breda, CONAA President

The Culture & Agriculture (C&A) Section of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) aims to develop the study and understanding of agrarian systems from a holistic, social science perspective, and to link academics and practitioners concerned with agrarian issues, agricultural development, and agricultural systems through dissemination of scientific research, encouragement of effective instruction, and to encourage application of knowledge to public policy.

The Political Ecology Society (PESO) has as its object the promotion of interdisciplinary scientific investigation of the political and economic principles controlling the relations of human beings to one another and to the environment. As part of its efforts to meet these goals, PESO supports the publication of the Journal of Political Ecology, a peer reviewed electronic journal that publishes articles and reviews in English, French, and Spanish.

The Society for Anthropological Sciences (SAS) was organised to promote empirical research and social science in anthropology. The members of SAS want to further the development of anthropological science as empirical knowledge based on testable theory, sound research design and systematic methods for the collection and analysis of data. We seek to fulfill the historic mission of anthropology to describe and explain the range of variation in human biology, society, and culture across time and space. 

The Society for Disability Studies (SDS) is a scholarly organization dedicated to promoting disability studies. More than twenty-five years of rich history has enabled the organization to reach national and international members with expertise ranging from advocacy to perspectives on disability from a variety of disciplines.

The Society for Medical Anthropology (SMA) formed in 1967 and incorporated into the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in 1971 is dedicated to the profession and practice of medical anthropology, which uses concepts and methods from anthropology to produce new understandings of health, illness, treatment, and care. Open for membership worldwide, the SMA brings together medical anthropology graduate students, practicing anthropologists, scholars, and scholar activists. The SMA includes a number of special interest groups organized to advance endeavors – including policy-related initiatives as well as research and teaching – on topics and priorities identified by these groups. The SMA publishes the journal Medical Anthropology Quarterly and offers venues for members to present their research at conferences.

Program Committee

Program Committee

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