2021 SALSA XIII Biennial Conference

2021 SALSA XIII Biennial Conference – Charlottesville

SALSA XIII Conference University of Virginia Charlottesville-1

The Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America (SALSA) is pleased to announce that its SALSA XIII Biennial Conference will take place virtually from June 21-June 25 and June 28-July 2, 2021, with the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA, as the host institution.
George Mentore (Conference Organizer) and Laura Mentore (Academic Program Chair) are working with Jeremy Campbell (SALSA President), Laura Graham (SALSA President-Elect), Laura Zanotti (SALSA Secretary-Treasurer), Juan Alvaro Echeverri (SALSA Webmaster), Chris Hewlett and Elliott Oakley (Academic Program Assistants) to prepare a dynamic and engaging virtual conference experience for you.

Conference Highlights

We are delighted to share that Dr. Janet Chernela accepted our invitation to be the keynote speaker, and Dr. Dan Rosengren accepted our invitation to deliver the opening lecture.

About the Virtual Conference

While the trajectories of COVID-19 and the resultant global economic downturn remain uncertain, it is reasonable to assume they will continue to have a significant impact.  Human health, international travel, and institutional budgets (upon which many of us depend for research, travel, and conference hosting alike) have been devastated and will take time to recover.  For these and other substantive reasons, we have made the difficult decision to take SALSA XIII online. The University of Virginia will now be hosting a virtual conference in 2021 instead of the in-person event that we initially envisioned.

Our Vision

We have been working with members of our planning committee, SALSA board members, and the digital technology staff at the University of Virginia to develop our vision for a rich and engaging virtual conference experience.  Our primary goal is to retain as much as possible, within a virtual environment, SALSA’s legacy of convivial, interpersonal conferencing.  For those who were hoping to attend, we share in your disappointment at not being able to gather in person but hope you will stay with us through the transition online.  For those who might have faced barriers against traveling to Charlottesville, we are dedicated to ensuring that you can now fully participate and share your valuable research and ideas with the broader collective.

As scholars who work with indigenous peoples of one of the most biodiverse and environmentally threatened regions of our planet, many remain concerned about the carbon footprint of conventional conferencing.  Our decision to move the conference online presents us with an opportunity to be ethically proactive and supportive of climate justice.  We want to take advantage of the general shift occurring in academia towards virtual conferencing.  In short, the current unfortunate, unexpected, and unprecedented circumstances have provided us an occasion to create the most accessible, inclusive, globally diverse, and carbon-conscious event in the history of SALSA.  We will work hard to make this happen.

How is it going to work

SALSA XIII will retain the principal, familiar elements of previous conferences, including an Opening Lecture, thematic panels comprised of 20-minute papers followed by Q&A; a Keynote Address, Conversations in the Lobby, posters, film screenings, exhibits, plus opportunities for social gatherings, debates, and other creative uses of virtual technology.

Our intended program format will address several pragmatic concerns having to do with the traditional conference model:

  • the “compression problem” of having many overlapping panels scheduled at the same time, thus forcing attendees to make difficult choices
  • the “conference fatigue” that often results from long days of successive events in person or front of a computer screen with limited downtime
  • the difficulty of managing childcare, self-care, and other life demands when faced with an intensive all-day schedule
  • the impracticability of providing translation services for multiple, live presentations in various languages.
  • the extremely high cost of conference fees, travel visas, flights, and accommodations

To address these and other common problems that typically impact the conference experience, conference registration fees will be much lower than previous conferences and scaled to the online format. There will be no more than 2-3 panels occurring at the same time, and main events will not overlap with panels.  Registered attendees will have continual access to posters, films, art exhibits, and select pre-recorded content throughout the conference dates through a secure portal.

The fact that our members reside in different time zones does present a challenge concerning our desire to preserve as much real-time interaction as possible. To meet this challenge, we have decided to schedule conference events roughly between 10 am to 2:30 pm Charlottesville/Manaus time (GMT-4) over ten days, from June 21st to June 25th and June 28th to July 2nd, 2021.  While this appears significantly longer than previous SALSA conferences, it amounts to only a slight increase in the total number of hours of content included in previous SALSA conferences, simply spread out over more days and with less overlap.  Formatting in this way gives us the flexibility to accommodate any significant changes in the number of submissions we receive compared to previous conference years.  If we receive fewer than anticipated submissions, we may scale back the length of the conference.  If we receive a higher than anticipated number of submissions, we may increase the number of panels that overlap in certain parts of the schedule.

We recognize that ten days of full-on conferencing would be unbearable. With the online format and limited hours, however, everyone will be able to come and go as they please and participate as much or as little they like while being able to tend to other life demands during their day.  We plan on most, if not all, events being either pre-recorded or recorded live, so that conference attendees will have the option of participating during the scheduled time or viewing at a time that is more convenient for them.  We acknowledge the importance of person to person connection-making and informal dialogue during SALSA conferences.  We, therefore, are seeking the best possible platform for a virtual lounge that will act as our central meeting hub throughout the conference, as well as virtual breakout rooms for those who wish to continue discussing a given panel after its scheduled time has ended. We are fortunate to have a skilled team of digital technology staff members at the University of Virginia who will be instrumental in ensuring that this is a streamlined, user-friendly event.  It will be up to all of us to ensure that it is a pleasant and impactful one.

Academic Program

Call for submissions and instructions


–Jeremy M. Campbell (SALSA President 2020-2023), Laura R. Graham (SALSA President-Elect 2023-2027), Laura Zanotti (Secretary-Treasurer 2017-2020), George Mentore (SALSA 2021 Conference Organizer), Laura Mentore (SALSA 2021 Academic Program Chair), Juan Alvaro Echeverri (SALSA Webmaster).

Please send all inquiries about this conference to: salsaconference2021@gmail.com