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Using Key Words in Annual Meeting Proposals

AFS requires four keywords with all proposals for presentations at the AFS annual meeting: we suggest genre, group, place and approach, but if these don't represent your work well, choose up to four of the best topics that do.

Key words aid the program committee in grouping presentations, and help AFS staff avoid scheduling thematically related sessions against each other in a crowded program. In 2013, AFS will also experiment with creating an index of keywords, which will allow meeting participants to search the contents of the program thematically.

As you prepare to submit your proposal for the AFS Annual Meeting, please refer to the AFS Ethnographic Thesaurus (AFSET), a hierarchically arranged list of terms describing ethnographic materials and topics, and two other Library of Congress references (see below). Your selection of terms from these standardized lists will help later scholars locate and learn from your work. The AFS program book index of keywords will only include terms that are approved by these sources.

We advise that you select up to four key words that best describe your annual meeting presentation or session before you begin the online submission process. Furthermore, for the purposes of Meeting scheduling and indexing, it will be most helpful if you select fairly general keywords (e.g., "architecture,” not "buildings” or "I house”). Include these keywords when prompted in submitting your proposal:

1. For names of ethnographic topics and approaches, use the AFSET (

2. For names of ethnic or other cultural groups, use the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH;

3. For names of places, people, organizations, and events, use the Library of Congress Name Authorities (LCNA;

Finding the standard versions of your own keywords takes just a few minutes. Just enter the keyword you are using; e.g.,

1. "tall tale” in the AFSET

2. "Bosnians” in the LCSH

3. "Jacksonville, Florida,” "Linda Dégh,” "American Folklife Center,” or "National Folk Festival” in the LCNA

into the search box at the top of each web page, and the standardized form of that term will be displayed. In some cases, your term will be the standard term: this is true, for example, of "tall tale” in the AFSET. If not, use the AFSET search results to identify a usable substitute – approved synonyms, or related, broader or narrower terms.

When you use the AFSET (and sometimes the LCSH and LCNA), it may be that there is no term in it that corresponds specifically to your work. For the purposes of the Annual Meeting, choose the most pertinent, more general term, available.

You can also serve the field by recommending the terms that more specifically describe your work for inclusion in the AFSET, LCSH, and LCNA. Your recommendations will help make them more comprehensive and useful resources. Please send your recommended terms to the AFSET Editorial Committee by using the "Contact Us” function on the AFSET web page. The committee also welcomes your comments about using the AFSET.

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