The High Plains Society
Applied Anthropology

HPSfAA Fall Retreat at Ghost Ranch

  • Thursday, September 30, 2021
  • 5:00 PM
  • Sunday, October 03, 2021
  • 12:00 PM
  • Ghost Ranch Retreat Center, Abiquiu, New Mexico


  • Open to our members only. 65+ years only. Must show proof of ID at conference when checking in.
  • Open to non-members. 65+ years only. Must show proof of ID at conference when checking in.

Registration is closed


HPSfAA Ghost Ranch Fall Retreat 2021

We will be streaming Saturday Presentations

Online via Zoom, from 9am-7:45pm MDT.

Check out the Special One Day Registration Rate!

Zoom Meeting Info will be sent after Registration.

!Program Now Available!

!Click to Download!

September 30th through October 3rd, 2021

“Ethical Engagements and Best Practices

in Applied Anthropology”

     Best practices are “tried and true” methods, techniques, or procedures shown through research and experience to produce optimal results, or that reflect a standard way of doing things based in common agreement. While best practices in anthropology have shifted significantly as our discipline has developed, these practices typically remain implicit in our anthropological training. In our fall retreat, we aim to make these practices explicit in order to open up a deeper consideration of the purposes of applied anthropology and facilitate discussion about how we actually approach the goal of achieving beneficial outcomes through our work. We call for presentations that engage the ground truth of our practices, as well as our aspirations moving forward. 

     As practicing anthropologists, we must build trust with stakeholders; protect research participants, clients, and ourselves; and ensure operational, organizational, and management effectiveness in our work. Yet success in the field is often measured in the way a river might be mapped— in non-linear meandering flows. In talking about good work in the field it can be difficult to untangle what works the best and what is most in alignment with our increasingly rigorous ethical standards as applied social scientists. This is not because they are precisely the same thing, but rather because any outcome that is not first responsible to upholding dignity, equity, and inclusive voice will be an example not of the best of anthropology; instead, it will be another volume of problematic ethnographic work that has not broken free of colonial extractive practice. 

     Best practices can reflect the ways in which ethical engagement and epistemological rigor intertwine when we seek to embrace open and honest communication, commit to transparency, identify and engage all potential stakeholders, respect the perspectives of others, uphold the integrity of the ethnographic process, attend to power dynamics, carefully consider representation, and work for the common good. At the same time, doing good, and doing good work, are also complex and deeply situational—during the fall retreat we aim to create a space to reflect upon this delicate balance. 

     The retreat will feature two roundtables on Anthropology’s best, and worst, practices, and a workshop where we will collaboratively engage with the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology’s recent “Best Practices for Anthropologists” document. In addition to calling for presentations, we invite proposals for interactive sessions. As always, we also welcome presentations that do not engage the retreat theme.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you at Ghost Ranch,

HPSfAA Board

Michael, Lucor, Melanie, Joe, Ted, Max, Saniego, and Howard



To protect our HPSfAA community, as well as the local communities we will be traveling through while visiting New Mexico, we are requiring that all retreat attendees be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Additionally, we will require that attendees wear masks when gathering in indoor spaces during the retreat.

If you are unable to meet these requirements for religious or health reasons, please reach out to us to discuss your individual case. 


The Ghost Ranch Education & Retreat Center, near Abiquiu, NM, is the site of the HPSFAA's annual fall retreat, held this year from September 30th - October 3rd, 2021. The retreat is a mini-conference set in a relaxed atmosphere and with time for social events. It is a great way to socialize with other members amidst the beauty of the northern New Mexico landscape. The board of directors also usually meets to discuss informant society issues and get input from members. Ghost Ranch is a beautiful place to explore and we truly hope you all are able to attend.


The Ghost Ranch Retreat is an informal event, with flexible schedules and minimal set programming. In addition to some short papers by members and students, past retreats have included workshops, meetings, and even a scavenger hunt/cultural tour of the surrounding area!


There are several types of accommodations available at the Ghost Ranch.  Lodging options include private rooms, dorms, casitas, and a campground. Sleeping rooms are simply furnished with two to six beds. Persons housed in the casitas must bring their own bed and bath linens. Most bathrooms are detached and "dorm-style," but a limited number of rooms have private or semi-private baths. The dining hall, the only source of food at the Ranch (beyond Bode's General Store in Abiquiu), serves cafeteria-style meals and can seat 300 guests. 


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ghost Ranch is managing 2020 reservations on top of 2021 reservations, as such, only Dorm Rooms with Shared Bathrooms and Campsites are currently available of this moment. Please contact Ghost Ranch to confirm availability ASAP.

Camping: $35 per campsite, per night

Dorm, Double Occupancy Room (Corral Block): $85 USD per night 

Conservation Fee: $5 USD per guest

Note: Room accommodations must be made directly with Ghost Ranch Retreat Center, 1-505-685-1000. Please indicate to their representatives that your part of the High Plains Society group. 


Due to limited availability at Ghost Ranch, we highly recommend investigating lodging options off-site. In a perfunctory search, we came across many within the immediate area i.e. as far away as the town of Abiquiu. 


Professional (Current Member) - $60.00 USD

Professional Couple (Current Member) - $90.00 USD

Professional (Non-member) - $65.00 USD

Student (Current Member) - $45.00 USD

Student (Non-member) - $50.00 USD

Senior (Member) - $50.00 USD

Senior (non-Member) - $45.00 USD

Notes: All presenters must pay registration. There is an additional 2.7% surcharge if your registration is paid for using PayPal or Afinipay. Payments by cash, check or money order are not subject to this fee and can be made prior to Fall Retreat or upon arrival.

If you would prefer to stay outside the Ranch, check out the Abiquiu Inn. Some members have stayed at this hotel, about 15 minutes down the road, as an alternative to Ghost Ranch accommodations. The Inn is also right next to the Georgia O'Keeffe Home and Studio Tour, which books tours of the artist's former home and studio. Another option for accommodations is Airbnb.


Ghost Ranch is about 60 miles, or an hour's drive on US 84, from Santa Fe. The drive from Albuquerque, the nearest major airport, is about two hours, or 120 miles. From Denver the drive is about 6 hours; from Tucson 9 hours. For more information on traveling to Ghost Ranch, click HERE. You may want to check out some of these driving tours in the area.


Ghost Ranch, set in the northern New Mexico desert, is located in an area that was a low-lying marshy swamp some 250 million years ago. Archaeologists have verified at least 12,000 years of human habitation in the area. Remains of cultures from the past are in evidence on and protected by the Ranch. Area museums (see below) tell the story of the prehistory, history, and current peoples and cultures of the surrounding region.

The 21,000 acres constituting Ghost Ranch were part of lands granted to Pedro Martin Serrano and his family in 1766 and later divided among his heirs. In the 1930s Arthur and Phoebe Pack bought the land surrounding the headquarters and, over a period of many years, added several connecting pieces. After operating Ghost Ranch as a small-scale working and guest ranch, the Packs donated the entire property to the Presbyterian Church in 1955. Since then the Ghost Ranch has functioned as a national adult study center and as a responsible steward of the Northern New Mexico environment.

There are many stories of how Ghost Ranch got its name. Years ago, before the Packs arrived, Hispanic residents called the area El Rancho de los Brujos--the Ranch of the Witches. Tales of wailing babies, a giant snake, a flying red cow and a murderous brother all contribute to local legends surrounding the Ghost Ranch name. A village resident once remarked that this area used to be possessed by evil spirits but that in recent years it has become inhabited by the Holy Spirit. Residents, staff and visitors believe this to be true!

Present day neighbors include Native Americans including Pueblos, Jicarilla-Apache and Navajo. The New Mexican community and more recently arrived Anglo-Americans complete this unique population. Respect for the ancient history of the land and people of the surrounding highlands is fundamental to the Ghost Ranch philosophy. At the same time the Ranch works to be a good neighbor to the twentieth-century residents of this area. Ghost Ranch also benefits from its neighbors. A number of them participate in or lead seminars, sharing their rich cultural heritage. The Ranch has a policy of hiring local people and buying from local merchants when possible. The bilingual and multicultural flavor is an asset to visitors and a lesson in the inter-relatedness of humans and the environment.

In more recent years, the beauty and solitude of this rugged desert environment has attracted people ranging from artists to outdoor recreation enthusiasts to spiritual seekers. Among other new neighbors are two monasteries

For more information about The Ghost Ranch Education & Retreat Center, go to:


Outside of the retreat itself, the Abiquiui area provides many opportunities for recreation and relaxation. A number of museums are found at or neat the Ghost Ranch or in the surrounding region. There are also miles of hiking trails at the Ghost Ranch and in nearby Carson National Forest. Please note that this is a desert environment with hot, dry days and cold nights. If you are planning to hike, please come prepared with proper clothing, footwear, water bottles and other equipment!

The Florence Hawley Ellis Museum of Anthropology interprets the diverse cultural history of the region and displays contemporary work by Native American, Hispanic and Anglo artists and artisans.

The Ruth Hall Museum of Paleontology is named for the wife of first resident Ghost Ranch Director Jim Hall. Displays range from a complete Coelophysis cast skeleton (the state fossil of New Mexico) to remains from great alligator-like reptiles. 

The Georgia O'Keeffe Home and Studio is in nearby Abiquiu. Tours can be arranged at the tour office next to the Abiquiu Inn. For more information and to make reservations in advance, please call 505-685-4539.

Two nearby monasteries, The Monastery of Christ in the Desert and the Monastery of Our Lady of the Desert, welcome visitors and offer gift shops, hiking trails, meditation gardens and religious services.

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