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AFS Review: Notes

The 2015 Annual Meeting for International Attendees

Monday, September 28, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Shannon K. Larson
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By Michael Dylan Foster (Indiana University) and Katherine Borland (The Ohio State University) -- On behalf of the Committee on International Issues, we want to extend a sincere welcome to those of you coming to AFS from outside the U.S., and especially those of you attending the Annual Meeting for the first time. Below are some brief thoughts to help you navigate the meeting and the program.

The AFS meeting is a friendly gathering. The atmosphere is generally informal and welcoming, and even if you are attending for the first time (and even if this is your first time in the U.S.), you should not hesitate to introduce yourself to people. AFS is a relatively small and intimate conference; it is easy to meet senior scholars, members of the Executive Board, Fellows, and others who have been involved with these meetings for a long time. You will be sure to find new colleagues with similar interests. At AFS, strangers do not remain strangers for long!

At the panels and meetings during the day, participants are eager to exchange ideas and will be particularly interested in learning about the state of folkloristics in other countries. Please be aware that some people prefer to sit through an entire session of papers, whereas others move in and out to see individual papers in different sessions. There are also a lot of opportunities outside the formal sessions and during the evenings to meet and chat with new friends and colleagues. In past years, many international participants have commented that they were surprised how much fun AFS was. They marveled at how relaxed people are and how they seem to truly enjoy spending time with each other. Don’t be surprised, for example, to see musical jam sessions breaking out in the hotel lobby in the evenings! And, of course, feel free to join in.

In recent years AFS has made a special effort to expand its own international horizons, welcoming more and more scholars from abroad and developing formal initiatives with folklore societies around the world. Many sessions at the 2015 meeting reflect issues in other countries, and you will find an increasing focus on global and transcultural concerns of all sorts. There are numerous sections and special interest groups within AFS, many of which focus on specific geographic regions. These include the African Studies Section; British Folk Studies Section; Folklore Latino, Latinoamericano, y Caribeño Section; Mediterranean Studies Section; Nordic-Baltic Section; and the Transnational Asia/Pacific Section. These sections—and all the others—are eager to welcome new members, so check the Annual Meeting Program for specific section meeting times and join in the conversation. Be aware that most sections hold their meetings during the lunch break, so if you plan to attend, grab a sandwich and bring it with you. 

One important event to which you are all invited is the Executive Board Welcome Breakfast for First Time Attendees, International Participants, and Stipend Recipients, held Thursday October 15, 7:00—8:00 AM in the Centennial Terrace of the Westin Hotel. This is a great opportunity to meet the people who put the meeting together, to meet Board members, to get a brief orientation to the rest of the meeting, and to have a free breakfast. It is a bit early in the morning, but it is definitely worth waking up for!

There are all sorts of other opportunities throughout the meeting. If you are a student, for example, there is a Fellows Reception for Students on Friday evening, 5:45–7:00 PM (in Centennial Terrace)—an excellent chance to talk one-on-one with senior scholars. And we also encourage you all to attend the Opening Ceremonies and Welcome Reception on Wednesday evening, the Candidates' Forum on Thursday, and the Business Meeting on Saturday.

Safe travels and we look forward to seeing you in Long Beach.

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