A.J. Faas (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Program Chair for the 2024 Annual Meeting in Santa Fe. He is Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator in the Department of Anthropology at San José State University.
It is my distinct pleasure to serve as the Program Chair for the 2024 Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was an honor to be invited by the SfAA Board to serve in this capacity because no organization has been more central, more formative and nurturing for me, my career, and my community than the SfAA. The Program Committee is composed of friends, peers, mentors, and colleagues from around the world, who, like me, see the SfAA as a central node in our professional and personal lives. It is an association that has drawn us into its mission, which we take up with pride and joy. The joy we feel is derived in large part from looking around at the community of scholars, practitioners, and pracademics that constitute the SfAA community and seeing it peopled with our peers and role models. Many of us still marvel at the fact that we are now the scholars and practitioners because we still see ourselves as students.
We are hard at work organizing the program for our 2024 annual meeting. And we perform this work cognizant of the community and legacy our efforts contribute to sustaining. We are also mindful of the fact that we have a duty not only to be good descendants, but also to be good ancestors. For this reason, we have crafted a program theme—Enchantment and Transformation—meant to evoke a regional connection with New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, and to foster the development of a conversation about transforming the practices and relations of applied social science in the spirit of inclusivity, hospitality, and justice. The 2024 program theme builds on important conversations in recent program themes, such as “Applied Anthropology at a Crossroad” (2023), “Engaging in Turbulent Times” (2019), “Trails, Traditions, and New Directions” (2017, Santa Fe), and “Continuity and Change” (2015). We see this as an opportunity for us to collectively engage in probing conversations, some already in the works, some overdue, about that which is taken for granted and the possibilities for bold and transformational change.
We are working with local and regional scholars, practitioners, artists, and community leaders to put together a program that connects with local and regional challenges and opportunities. And we remain committed to facilitating very global conversations as well. We expect a lively local day, walking tours, and tours further afield, and, as always, a rich program of panels and workshops. Enchantment, transformation, local, global, and points in between. This is where we see ourselves traveling and creating. We realize that there is always variation in the extent to which panels and participants directly engage with program themes, but we know that the best programs are those in which a set of related conversations emerge from engagement, and we encourage our members to join us in engaging with the theme.
This will not be our first time in Santa Fe. It has long proven popular with our membership and we hope to continue what has worked and to innovate to maintain interest and expand accessibility. We are happily meeting at the El Dorado Hotel, on Santa Fe’s historic plaza, a charming hotel reflecting local character, and which has the benefit of being centrally located and far more accessible to people experiencing mobility challenges than prior meeting sites in Santa Fe.
When we meet in Santa Fe, let us be mindful of the fact that we are guests in the region the Tewa, Towa, Tiwa, Zuni, and Keres-speaking Pueblos call home, as well as the Athapascan-speaking Navajo and Apache, and other Native American groups with close ties to the region. These lands were colonized by Spain and then the United States of America. Santa Fe and the broader Southwest are products of long and still ongoing historical processes of migration and cultural change. I hope we will be considerate of our own positionality within these processes and be good guests to our host communities.
Until we meet in Santa Fe, I welcome our members and partners to reach out to me with ideas, engage the program committee, and help us make the 2024 Annual Meeting one to remember. We hope you will join us in Santa Fe, an ideal space for doing the work of transformation in the spirit of enchantment.