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Using Keywords in Annual Meeting Proposals

AFS accepts up to five keywords with proposals for presentations at the AFS annual meeting. Keywords are not required, but they will aid the program committee in grouping presentations, and help AFS staff avoid scheduling thematically related sessions against each other in a crowded program. Additionally, the annual meeting program book will include an Index of Keywords, which will allow meeting participants to search quickly for presentations that interest them.

Note: The Index of Keywords in the program book will only include the subject terms that are approved by the AFS Ethnographic Thesaurus and names that are not covered by the thesaurus.


Select your keywords before you begin the online submission process, because leaving the proposal form before you hit "submit" may disrupt the data transmission; you may not be able to return to the form without being required to register again.


Using the AFS Ethnographic Thesaurus

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, genres, and approaches. Note: Names of ethnic or cultural groups, names of languages, and proper names of people, organizations, events, and places are not included in the AFSET. Use your own terms for these.

Finding the standard versions of your own keywords takes just a few minutes. Enter the keyword you are using (eg, "costume") into the search box at the top of each web page, and the standardized form of that term will be displayed ("clothing"). In some cases, your term will be the standard term. 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, 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 serve the field and help enhance the usefulness of the AFS Ethnographic Thesaurus by recommending new subject terms or topics. Please send recommended terms to the AFSET Editorial Committee by using the "Contact Us” function on the AFSET web page.

Selecting Keywords

Submit the most salient key words, even if they are already in your presentation or panel title. If your presentation concerns a genre, group, and/or geographic place, we recommend that you use your keywords to describe them. If those categories aren't relevant, your keywords should describe the most important dimensions of your work, with attention to aspects that may not be apparent in your presentation title.

The proposal form will offer the following three lists of terms to choose from, as well as two text fields that permit you to enter terms of your choice, so that you may enter up to five different terms altogether. The lists are not meant to be normative or comprehensive; instead, they represent categories that appear frequently in the annual meeting program. Choose the most specific terms that apply to your proposal; if none are relevant, leave the field blank and supply terms of your choice for topics 4-5. You can also use the spaces to enter additional genre or practice terms, if necessary.


Genre (choose one):
Practice (choose one):
Additional, common index categories
(multiple choices permitted):


Game or play

Material culture

Music (other)
Narratives (other)
Proverbs or sayings
Verbal arts (other)


Archives or libraries
Cultural policy


Education, K-12

Education (other)



Historic preservation

Intangible cultural heritage


Organization or event management/planning


Research, theory or methodology

Writing or publishing

African, African American and diaspora
Asia/Pacific and diaspora
British or Irish
Chicano or Latino
Children's folklore

Digital media


Indigenous peoples
Middle Ages

Politics and social justice
Popular culture

Space and place





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