SEA Annual Conference 2018

Water and EconomWhen: March 1-3, 2018
With special field event on March 4, 2018

Where: Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

SEA 2018 Annual Meeting Program


Water is Life. The refrain of water rights activists globally is an invitation to consider the many ways in which water is essential to human economy, environments, and health. The theme of this SEA conference is the role of water in human economic life – from studies of water management in ancient societies, to irrigation in agrarian settings, to informal economies of water in squatter settlements, to social movements to secure a human right to water. Participation is invited in four general tracks:

  1. Political Economy – such as processes of institutional development, complexity of water management systems, water privatization, indigenous sovereignty, social movements, water justice, and water conflicts.
  2. Environment & Ecology – such as the role of water-related ecological disturbances (e.g., droughts, floods, climate change) in shaping human economic activity; or the interface of ecology and economics—including natural capital, ecosystem services, landscape impacts and use, and sustainability.
  3. Health – such as water insecurity, water quality, contamination and pollution, waterborne disease, emotional well-being, and mental health.
  4. Values – economic, social, and cultural values of water, including the ways that water is monetized, bought, and traded; how water and access to water is central to issues of class and social structure; or the historical, symbolic, and ritual meanings of water.

These are suggestions, designed to stimulate but not constrain ideas. We welcome papers that investigate any aspect of water and economy, including papers that cross-cut these categories or take the field in new directions.

We request abstracts for both papers and posters on these topics. Please indicate whether your abstract is for a paper, a poster or either.

Proposed papers must pertain to the meeting theme. However, SEA meetings also include a poster session that showcases all work in economic anthropology. The SEA welcomes poster abstracts on any aspect of economic anthropology. The poster session at SEA meetings is a highly-attended event scheduled as its own session.

Publishing Opportunity

The Society for Economic Anthropology publishes Economic Anthropology, a peer reviewed journal published electronically via the American Anthropological Association (AAA). Each year Economic Anthropology dedicates one of its two issues to the theme of the SEA meeting. A special issue on water and economy will be developed from select conference presentations.


Amber Wutich: Amber[dot]Wutich[at]asu[dot]edu
Melissa Beresford: Melissa[dot]Beresford[at]asu[dot]edu


Abstract Deadline Extended to November 1, 2017!

Poster abstract deadline extended to January 15, 2018!

Abstracts of proposed papers and posters should be no more than 500 words. Abstracts are advised to include the following information: problem statement or theoretical frame, methodology, findings, and implications. If you submit a paper abstract, please indicate your willingness to present a poster if the organizers are unable to accommodate your paper in the plenary sessions. Poster sessions at SEA are taken very seriously, and most conference participants attend these sessions. In order to be considered for inclusion in the journal issue tied to this theme, please plan to have a complete, publishable-quality version of your paper ready at the time of the conference. Additional information for potential authors will follow.

To submit an abstract, you must first register for the conference through the American Anthropological Association (AAA). To register for the conference, please click here. (You will need to scroll down the page for the correct registration link.) After you have successfully registered, you will receive an email confirmation from the AAA; please check your confirmation email to find the link to upload your abstract.

If you are an AAA member use your login and password. If you are not an AAA member, you will be prompted to create a login and password; you do not need to join the association.


The SEA Conference will offer an opportunity to learn more about Hohokam lifeways and water management in a private fieldtrip to the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve and the Pueblo Grande Museum & Archaeological Park, both located in the Phoenix metropolitan region. The fieldtrip will be organized by faculty members of Arizona State University’s Archaeology program.

Nestled in the historic Hedgpeth Hills on the edge of Phoenix, the Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve serves as a gateway to southwest archaeology and Arizona’s rich cultural past. It is the primary exhibition space for Arizona State University’s Center for Archaeology and Society, an organization that addresses enduring issues in the present by using archaeology’s unique access to the diversity of solutions developed by ancient Southwestern cultures.

Born out of the Adobe Dam project in 1980, the preserve is the result of a partnership by a number of organizations, including the Army Corps of Engineers, Maricopa Flood Control District and Arizona State University. The university has operated, protected and preserved the site since 1994, and will continue to do so for generations to come.

Pueblo Grande Museum is located on a 1,500 year old archaeological site left by the Hohokam culture located just minutes from downtown Phoenix next to Sky Harbor International Airport. A fully accessible 2/3 mile trail takes you through a prehistoric Hohokam archaeological village site with a partially excavated platform mound, ballcourt, and replicated prehistoric houses. There are three galleries to visit while at the Museum. The main gallery displays artifacts of the Hohokam and discusses the Pueblo Grande village site.

Time: 9:30 AM – 3:00 PM

Cost: $30

*We will drop participants off at the airport and light rail public transit system as needed. We will arrive at Pueblo Grande Museum at 1PM. The airport transit system is accessible via a short walk from the Museum if participants need to leave before 3PM.


ASU’s Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) is directed under the leadership of anthropologist Dr. H. Russell Bernard. ISSR offers popular methods workshops taught by social science research experts. ISSR is happy to invite SEA attendees to participate in a methods workshop on Qualitative Data Analysis on Thursday, March 1.

This one-day course provides an introduction to systematic methods for analyzing qualitative data, including field notes, interview transcripts, images, audio, and video. Topics covered include: techniques for identifying themes, tips for developing and using codebooks, and suggestions on how to produce qualitative descriptions, make systematic comparisons, and build and formally test models. The course is not a software workshop, but we will introduce participants to MAXQDA software to facilitate the systematic analysis of qualitative data.

The workshop will run from 9am – 5 pm; it includes lunch for participants. Eight spots will be held for SEA attendees until Thursday, February 22nd, close of business. Cost is $50.00 per participant and registration can be completed here.


The 2018 meeting of the SEA will be held at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. A block of 55 rooms ($189.00) has been reserved at a discount rate on a first-come, first-serve basis at the Graduate Tempe. The Graduate, a retro hotel situated across the street from ASU, houses two restaurants: Tapacubo and The Normal Diner. To receive the group rate, rooms must be reserved by telephone (480-967-9431). Please indicate that you are with the Society for Economic Anthropology to receive the discounted group rate. In Tempe in Spring, it pays to book your accommodation as early as possible.


The nearest airport is Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, which is just five miles away from ASU’s campus. Light rail, shuttle, and taxi options are available and local transportation information can be found on the airport website.


Arizona State University is located in the Sonoran Desert, in Tempe, part of the Phoenix metropolitan area. Metropolitan Phoenix is built on the Hohokam canal system (600-1450 AD). Today, the groundwork laid by the Hohokam forms the basis of the canal system that brings Phoenix residents their drinking water. ASU’s location in this historic desert site provides an exciting setting to consider the role of water in shaping human economic and social organization over time and across cultures.

Tempe and the greater Phoenix area also offer many regional attractions. From museums to hiking to live performances right on ASU’s Tempe campus, you’ll find plenty to do!

Some local highlights:

Downtown Tempe’s Mill District & Tempe Town Lake

Desert Botanical Garden

Pueblo Grande Museum & Archaeological Park

Heard Museum of American Indian Art & History

For those who wish to venture further afield, the red rocks of Sedona and the Grand Canyon are just a few hours’ drive away.


The SEA Conference meetings will be held at the Arizona State University campus at the following locations:

ASU Memorial Union

The Memorial Union, considered the living room of ASU, serves as the primary meeting center on the Tempe campus. The MU is an ideal setting for meetings, conferences, or special events due to its central location, 25+ meeting rooms, event amenities, and catering services.

Graduate Tempe Tapacubo Rooftop

The Tapacubo Rooftop at the Graduate Hotel in Tempe is a bright an open-air event space, complete with views of A Mountain, the ASU campus, and greater Tempe. The optional Saturday evening banquet will be hosted here on Saturday March 3. Cost is $50.00.