NEAA Annual Meeting 2012: A Bridgewater Student's Perspective

by McKayla Hoffman

When I went to the 2011 NEAA Conference as a freshman, I was able to become a part of a larger community of Anthropology students and professionals that inspired me to push myself as a student and as a future archaeologist. Now, I can’t wait for what 2012’s conference has to offer! 

The Anthropology program at Bridgewater State University is incredible, but is made up of very few students and faculty compared to other programs at the university. While this makes me feel like I’m a part of a fun, supportive family, going to the 2011 NEAA conference made me feel like this family expanded to include the many undergraduates and professionals who attended from all over the Northeast. Each person I met inspired me to excel, and they challenged me to consider Anthropological issues that I never would have considered before. Meeting so many knowledgeable, friendly individuals made me feel immediately accepted and hopeful about being successful in my field of study. I met Anthropology students who shared the same hopes—and questions—that I did about my future, especially when it came to graduate schools and career options, and there were many professionals who represented most, if not all, sub-disciplines of Anthropology who were willing to share their own experiences and give helpful advice. It was exciting to be able to network with such a wide variety of professors, archaeologists, and others. It’s impossible to connect with this many people on this level in the classroom!

The 2011 NEAA conference also really put my major into perspective for me. I believe that even the best professors simply cannot teach and demonstrate to students the variety of opinions and ideas out there, but going to conferences—especially the NEAA conference—can. 

The wide variety of presentations at the conference showed me the range of possible research in Anthropology. Before, I felt incredibly limited and daunted by the task of picking topics that did not interest me very much, but after seeing other students and professionals present their work, I became excited to discover more and start thinking of research topics that are unique and thought-provoking.

This year’s NEAA conference promises to be just as awesome! It will be held at Bridgewater State University on March 9th and 10th, in Boyden Hall. During the day on Friday and Saturday, there will be presentations, papers, and poster sessions. The deadline for paper and presentation submissions is on February 16th, 2012, and while presentations can be on any topic related to Anthropology, you are invited to also write about and research this year’s theme: “Anthropological Constructions of Time”, which focuses on how time is constructed in the different sub-disciplines of Anthropology. Being able to present your work at this conference is a fantastic way to receive friendly and thoughtful criticism that can help you move forward with your research, and it will look great on your resumé! Who knows—it might even help you expand on your topic!

There will be exciting events to attend, too! There will be an open house at the Robbins Museum of Archaeology in Middleboro the first night, and they will be showing the film We Are Still Here, which discusses the Wampanoag Language Project. On the second night, there will be a banquet at Bridgewater State University in the Campus Center Ballroom, during which keynote speaker Dr. John Carlson will give a talk entitled: “The Maya Calendar and the 2012 Event”. These events are sure to be spectacular, and will give students an opportunity to network with professionals and meet other like-minded students!

With this said, I know that your experience at the 2012 NEAA conference will be just as fruitful as mine was!