When in 2008 I went to Dublin for WAC6 I was really excited about the idea of taking part in what probably was the most important congress worldwide. It was expensive, but I was still a student so it was like many others I was attending that year (under 200€). I must say I enjoyed it, although so many parallel sessions made me pass from wanting to visit all of them, to staying for the last couple of days in the common areas chatting with people (after all, that's what congresses are for).
I usually miss inter-congresses, although they look interesting, but was waiting anxiously for the launch of WAC7 in Jordan. Today I visited the web page and all my expectations crumbled. Why? Because of the fees. $460 ($300 for students) which means a rise over 25%. This is by far the most expensive congress in archaeology I have ever seen, plus it is celebrated in a country where it is very expensive to go. I am Spanish, I manage a small company that is starting to have some profit (not enough for my salary yet) and I have to pay full fees. But well... I cannot even afford student fees and I cannot apply for funding (have no options). The EAA or SAA meetings (to mention the other two major congresses in USA and Europe) have full fees under 200€ and, as an example, going to Honolulu for next years' SAA would be cheaper for me than going to Jordan for WAC.
Since I launched the company (2010), I started an editorial with the policy of keeping prices under 20€. Until now I have had no problems with that, and my last book (over 300 pages) costs 12€ in paper and 2,5€ in pdf including a donation for a local association. I didn't lose money with it, why OWA series is usually over $100? The years when Left Coast was publishing it were ok in paperback, but now with Springer we are back to unaffordable prices. I have no idea if they pay authors... if so, such a price is understandable, but there are other options of paying (for sold books) and most series in archaeology do not pay (at least in collaborative ones), so it would not be so harmful, if we could at least afford to buy them.
Last year, in Public Archaeology there was a debate (maybe more coming?) about WAC. The issues were all interesting, but I will keep the idea of 'Archaeology Inc.' (Shepherd and Haber 2011 vol. 10-2, pp. 96-115). I'm still waiting for instructions to download Archaeologies articles for free (isn't it our journal? Shit, I even review for it!). I wait for years to buy books I want because I cannot afford them, and so happens with the libraries I have access to. I cannot afford to go to the meetings because they are too expensive (yeah, I'm complaining about 150€ in a trip over 2000€).
I don't mind to pay more for being in A countries, so WAC can have its 'indigenous quota' but this is not inclusive, or even ethical. I am sure there are other ways to manage it. And I am sure, because I struggle with it every day in my company.
When I studied Public Archaeology in UCL, Peter Ucko was a hero that changed the world of archaeology and WAC was one of the achievements. Today, I wonder what he would think of this... I'm not sure he would like it.
Archaeology as a commodity: Some months ago, Cristobal Gnecco asked me to write a chapter in a new book about ethics for WAC. I will not be present in WAC7 to celebrate it. I will probably not be able to buy a copy of the book. I will have to think a lot about this before writing (you are on time to change me Cristobal...).
Indigenous archaeologists: Lately I am thinking a lot about new forms of colonialism... WAC is starting to be like one right now. The 'indigenous quota' is not inclusiveness it is charity.
Maybe I am wrong... Maybe this is just a misunderstanding of how things work and ignorance about WAC after all these years. I still believe being together is better than nothing, so I will probably continue as a member (I already paid for three years I think), but I needed to say this, because this is not what I came here for.
[Of course, I will not be at WAC7, so I hope you enjoy it.]