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Using Keywords in Annual Meeting Proposals

Keywords are not required for annual meeting proposals, 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 subject terms that are approved by the AFS Ethnographic Thesaurus and names that are not covered by the thesaurus.

Good advice: Select your keywords before you begin the online submission process.

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. We recommend that you consult other vocabularies in the Library of Congress Linked Data Service for terms that are not in the AFSET.

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, and related, standardized forms of that term will be displayed (eg, "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

Select the most salient terms, even if they are already in your paper title. Aim for about five terms.

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 a list of terms to choose from, as well as two text fields that permit you to enter terms of your choice. The list of controlled terms is not meant to be normative or comprehensive; instead, these terms represent categories that appear frequently in the annual meeting program. Choose the most specific terms that apply to your proposal; if none are relevant, use only the text boxes. You may select as many of the listed terms as are relevant to your proposal, but do no submit more than one term in each text box.

Here are the frequently used terms you will have to choose from:


African, African American
and diaspora

Archives or libraries


Asia/Pacific and diaspora


British or Irish

Chicano/a or Latino/a

Children's folklore

Cultural policy


Digital media


Education (K-12)

Education (other)





Game or play



Historic preservation

Indigenous peoples

Intangible cultural heritage





Material culture


Middle Ages






Occupational folklore

Organization or event


Popular culture


Proverbs or sayings

Research, theory or


Social justice


Space and place






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