The Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America SALSA was organized in 2001, to provide an independent professional association for anthropologists specializing in lowland regions of South America (the Amazon, Orinoco, and Rio de la Plata river basins and adjacent areas). SALSA’s main goals are to foster sound and ethical research on the peoples and environments of lowland South America, and to promote the education of students and the general public on issues that we study.
SALSA is an international society, bringing together specialists who live in Latin America, Europe, North America, and elsewhere. We publish the online journal, Tipiti, and sponsor a Sesquiannual Conference (every year and a half), which since 2017 have become biannual. SALSA has a voting membership with an elected board of directors, by-laws, and official status as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation.
SALSA seeks to facilitate connections and develop opportunities for the exchange of information among scholars who specialize in lowland South America; to encourage students to learn about and carry out research in this region; and to disseminate original scholarship of high quality through its journal, conferences, and website. SALSA membership and conference participation are open to students as well as professionals, with sliding scales of fees by region. Ideally (contingent on local host sponsorship), the site of our conference rotates among South America, Europe, and North America. Papers and communications may presented in Portuguese, Spanish, or English.
SALSA’s ethos is collegial and inclusive. This orientation draws inspiration from the Bennington Meetings, an annual weekend gathering hosted for many years by Kenneth Kensinger, a legendarily generous and insightful colleague. Each summer, Ken welcomed nouveau-Amazonianist graduate students and eminent scholars alike, to gather in his home at Bennington College in rural Vermont. Conversation about South America and the realities of doing field research flowed as freely as the ideas and libations.
In 2001, William Balée and Jeffrey Ehrenreich brought a group of scholars together in New Orleans, and the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America was formed (see 2001 SALSA Organizing Meeting). A Steering Committee comprised by William Balée, Jeffrey Ehrenreich, Janet Chernela, Lori Cormier, Stephanie Heulster, Ken Kensinger, Maria Moreno, Donald Pollock, and Terence Turner developed the organizational framework from which SALSA has grown into the largest international association of lowland South American anthropology specialists.