A Brief History of the Southwest Symposium

Logo BowlThe first Southwest Symposium Conference was organized by Paul E. Minnis and Charles L. Redman in 1988 and hosted at Arizona State University (Click here to see the program from that first meeting). The goal of this first conference was to create a venue where archaeologists working in the greater Southwest could gather to present and discuss work focused on broad questions of regional, theoretical, and methodological significance facing the field as a whole. This conference was seen as an important complement to long-running conferences like the Pecos Conference or sub-regional meetings that focused on particular areas or the results of field research. The Southwest Symposium was designed to spur archaeologists working in the region to broaden their horizons to consider the Southwest as a whole and to recognize the similarities in the processes and trajectories marking the long and diverse occupation of this region. The proceedings of this first meeting were published two years later in 1990 by Routledge Press in Perspectives on Southwestern Prehistory, edited by Minnis and Redman.

With the success of the first meeting, the Southwest Symposium Organization was created to organize and host a conference every other year. For each conference, the themes would be set to reflect current topics of interest in the region, but also to maintain that connection the initial goal of considering the Southwest as a whole and the regional context of local research. In the decades since 1988, the Southwest Symposium Conference has continued to grow and expand its horizons. In 1998, the first international meeting was hosted in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. This move represented a recognition that the modern international border had, for too long, structured archaeological research. Beyond this, the range of topics considered in the Southwest Symposium has continued to expand including areas of cutting edge academic research as well as social and political issues facing the field as a whole such as the need for tribal participation and engagement in archaeology, NAGPRA, the expansion of CRM archaeology, and legal battles over archaeological protection and preservation. Recent conferences have continued to push the boundaries even further with sessions focusing on areas of the Great Basin, the Fremont region, and the Plains. Due to the global COVID pandemic from 2020-22, the symposium was held a year later in 2023 and is now on a two-year, odd year rotation.

The Southwest Symposium Organization is also focused on ensuring that the results of each Southwest Symposium Conference are published and accessible. The table below represents the history of conference hosts cities and themes as well as the publications that resulted from each conference.

Conference Locations, Themes, and Publications

1988Tempe, AZPerspectives on Southwestern PrehistoryMinnis and Redman 1990
1990Albuquerque, NMThe Ancient Southwestern Community: Models and Methods for the Study of Prehistoric Social Organization Wills and Leonard 1994
1992Tucson, AZInterpreting Southwestern Diversity: Underlying Principles and Overarching PatternsFish and Reid 1996
1994Tempe, AZMigration in the Southwest JAA 14(2); The Archaeology of Gender in the American Southwest (1995) JAR 51(2) Lekson 1995; Spielmann 1995
1996Tempe, AZThe Archaeology of Regional InteractionHegmon 2000
1998Hermosillo, SOBoundaries and Territories: Prehistory of the U.S. Southwest and Northern MexicoVillalpando 2002
2000Santa Fe, NMTraditions, Transitions, and Technologies: Themes in Southwestern ArchaeologySchlanger 2002
2002Tucson, AZIdentity, Feasting, and the Archaeology of the Greater SouthwestMills 2004
2004Chihuahua City, CHArchaeology Without Borders: Contact, Commerce, and Change in the U.S. Southwest and Northwest MexicoMcBrinn and Webster 2008
2006Las Cruces, NMContemporary Archaeologies of the SouthwestWalker and Venzor 2011
2008Tempe, AZMovement, Connectivity, and Landscape ChangeNelson and Strawhacker 2011
2010Hermosillo, SOBuilding Transnational ArchaeologiesVillalpando and McGuire 2014
2012Albuquerque, NMExploring Cause and ExplanationHerhahn and Ramenofsky 2016
2014Las Vegas, NVInteraction and Connectivity in the Greater SouthwestHarry and Roth 2019
2016Tucson, AZEngaged Archaeology Hays-Gilpin, Herr, and Lyons 2021
2018Denver, COPushing Boundaries in Southwestern ArchaeologyNash and Baxter 2023
2020Tempe, AZThinking BigForthcoming
2023Sante Fe, NMAttributes to NetworksForthcoming

The Southwest Symposium Board

The Southwest Symposium Organization is operated by a volunteer board with members serving two year terms and officers elected by the board members. The board is responsible for managing the finances of the organization and recruiting hosts and venues for the biennial conference. Current board members are:

  • President – Matthew Pailes, University of Oklahoma
  • Treasurer – Laurie Webster
  • Fumi Arakawa, Indiana University
  • Suzanne Eckert, Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona
  • Jose Luis Punzo, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Centro INAH Michoacán
  • Kari Schleher, University of New Mexico
  • Wade Campbell, Boston University
  • Sam Jensen, Graduate Student, University of Oklahoma
  • Genevieve Woodhead, Graduate Student, University of New Mexico

The Southwest Symposium Logo

The Southwest Symposium logo shown at the top of this page was drawn in 2007 by Will Russell for the 20th anniversary of the organization. The logo is based on a Magdalena Black-on-white bowl recovered from 2007 excavations at Roadmap Pueblo near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, by the Arizona State University field school.

Bibliography of Southwest Symposium Publications

Ahlstrom, Richard V. N., Carla R. Van West, and Jeffrey S. Dean
1995    Environmental and Chronological Factors in the Mesa Verde-Northern Rio Grande Migration. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 14(2):125–142.

Cameron, Catherine M.
1995    Migration and the Movement of Southwestern Peoples. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 14(2):104–124.

Cordell, Linda S.
1995    Tracing Migration Pathways from the Receiving End. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 14(2):203–211.

Crown, Patricia L., and W. H. Wills
1995    The Origins of Southwestern Ceramic Containers: Women’s Time Allocation and Economic Intensification. Journal of Anthropological Research 51(2):173–186.

Fish, Paul R., and J. Jefferson Reid (editors)
1996    Interpreting Southwestern Diversity: Underlying Principles and Overarching Patterns. Archaeological Research Papers No. 48. Department of Anthropology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.

Harry, Karen, and Barbara J. Roth (editors)
2019    Interaction and Connectivity in the Greater Southwest. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

Hegmon, Michelle (editor)
2000    The Archaeology of Regional Interaction: Religion, Warfare, and Exchange across the American Southwest and Beyond. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

Herhahn, Cynthia L., and Ann F. Ramenofsky (editors)
2016    Exploring Cause and Explanation: Historical Ecology, Demography, and Movement in the American Southwest. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

Howell, Todd L.
1995    Tracking Zuni Gender and Leadership Roles across the Contact Period. Journal of Anthropological Research 51(2):125–147.

Lekson, Stephen H.
1995    Introduction. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 14(2):99–103.

Lekson, Stephen H., and Catherine M. Cameron
1995    The Abandonment of Chaco Canyon, the Mesa Verde Migrations, and the Reorganization of the Pueblo World. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 14(2):184–202.

Lipe, William D.
1995    The Depopulation of the Northern San Juan: Conditions in the Turbulent 1200s. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 14(2):143–169.

Mills, Barbara J.
1995    Gender and the Reorganization of Historic Zuni Craft Production: Implications for Archaeological Interpretation. Journal of Anthropological Research 51(2):149–172.

Mills, Barbara J. (editor)
2004 Identity, feasting, and the archaeology of the greater Southwest. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

Minnis, Paul E., and Charles L. Redman (editors)
1990    Perspectives On Southwestern Prehistory. Routledge.

Naranjo, Tessie
1995    Thoughts on Migration by Santa Clara Pueblo. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 14(2):247–250.

Nash, Stephen E., and Erin L. Baxter (editors)
2023 Pushing Boundaries in Southwestern Archaeology: Chronometry, Collections, and Contexts. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

Nelson, Margaret C. and Colleen A. Strawhacker (editors)
2011    Movement, connectivity, and landscape change in the ancient Southwest the 20th anniversary Southwest Symposium. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

Roney, John R.
1995    Mesa Verdean Manifestations South of the San Juan River. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 14(2):170–183.

Simon, Arleyn W., and John C. Ravesloot
1995    Salado Ceramic Burial Offerings: A Consideration of Gender and Social Organization. Journal of Anthropological Research 51(2):103–124.

Sarah Schlanger (editor)
2002    Traditions, transitions, and technologies: themes in Southwestern archaeology : proceedings of the 2000 Southwest Symposium. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

Villalpando, M. Elisa (editor)
2002     Boundaries and Territories: Prehistory of the U.S. Southwest and Northern Mexico. Archaeological Research Papers No. 54. Department of Anthropology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.

Walker, William H. and Kathryn R Venzor (editors)
2013    Contemporary Archaeologies of the Southwest. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

Spielmann, Katherine A.
1995    Glimpses of Gender in the Prehistoric Southwest. Journal of Anthropological Research 51(2):91–102.

Stark, Miriam T., Jeffery J. Clark, and Mark D. Elson
1995    Causes and Consequences of Migration in the 13th Century Tonto Basin. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 14(2):212–246.

Villalpando, Elisa, and Randall H. McGuire (editors)
2014    Building Transnational Archaeologies: The Southwest Symposium, Hermosillo, Sonora. Arizona State Museum, Tucson, AZ.

Webster, Laurie D, and Maxine McBrinn
2008    Archaeology Without Borders: Contact, Commerce, and Change in the U.S. Southwest and Northwestern Mexico. University Press of Colorado; Conaculta/INAH, Boulder, CO; Chihuahua, MX.

Wills, W. H., and Robert D. Leonard
1994    The Ancient Southwestern Community: Models and Methods for the Study of Prehistoric Social Organization. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.