Procedure for Selection of a Keynote Speaker

Selection of Keynote Speaker

Policy on selection of a keynote speaker for SALSA conferences

Approved October 2019 by the Board of Directors of SALSA.


I.          All involved in this process shall keep their deliberations strictly confidential.

II.        The President of SALSA will initiate a conversation with the Conference Organizer and the Academic Program Chair in approximately a month’s time following verification of their roles. The President’s role will be to facilitate the conversation, provide historical background on prior choices, and make suggestions, however, the key criteria and profile of the keynote speaker should primarily be suggested from coordinated discussions between the Conference Organizer and the Academic Program Chair. SALSA will not prescribe a single criterion for choice of keynote speaker, but lists the following as possibilities to bear in mind:

A.   Tradition. A keynote lecture is traditionally one that sets out the central theme of a conference.

  1. The selection may privilege alignment between the speaker’s career or topic of expertise and the ethos of the host institution.
  2. The selection may privilege alignment between the speaker and a topic that the organizers wish to stress.

B. Seminal Influence. The keynote address can diverge from the central conference theme if the speaker is able to lay timely, provocative, topical and/or methodological tracks for other scholars to follow thus giving our members a stimulating and relevant talk.

C. Career. A speaker may be chosen because the organizers wish to recognize a long, rich and influential career.

D. Renown. A well-known speaker can be instrumental in creating enthusiasm for the event and also motivate otherwise ambivalent members to attend the conference.

E. Location. The SALSA tradition has been to have keynote speakers from the continent where the event is taking place; nevertheless, the Conference Organizer and Academic Program Chair may make a case for timely exceptions.

F. Merit – All selections must be free from bias and discrimination of gender, ethnicity and ability equality.

G. The speaker need not be an anthropologist.

III.      The Conference Organizer, in consultation with the Academic Program Chair, will produce a document laying out the criteria employed in making the choice and a shortlist of the candidates, including brief bios or relevant synopses.

IV.      The President, through the Secretary/Treasurer, shall poll the Board of Directors to seek a ranking of the proposed candidates.

V.        The President shall inform the Board of Directors, the Conference Organizer, and the Academic Program chair of the results of the poll.

VI.      The President shall offer the top-ranked candidate the keynote lecture. If turned down, the President shall offer the keynote lecture to the second-ranked candidate, and so on.