Association for the Study of Food and Society and the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society 2019 Conference
Finding Home in the "Wilderness": Explorations in Belonging in Circumpolar Food Systems
Anchorage, Alaska, USA, June 26-29, 2019
This is the joint annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Food and Society and the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society.
The University of Alaska Anchorage, in collaboration with Alaska Pacific University, is pleased to host the 2019 Joint Annual Meetings and Conference of the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS) and the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society (AFHVS).
Alaska is a changing landscape of modern diversity, evident in indigenous cultures that have called this circumpolar region home for thousands of years, frequent urban turnover, and rapidly growing immigrant populations that contributed to the most diverse census tract in the nation (Farrell 2015). Alaska Native cultures’ presence and contribution in the state is a highly valued and particularly important component of the food system. The special relationship between the land and people is evident across rural, urban, and peri-urban settings. As in many other settings with high levels of diversity, Anchorage tackles its food and climatic constraints and opportunities in a complex web of relationships that spans from land management, health and environmental impacts of food production, to diverse cultural practices within the rationalizing context of globalization.
The conference theme, Finding Home in the “Wilderness,” invites attendees to critically engage with and problematize the idea of wilderness. We acknowledge the concept of wilderness as a contentious one, influenced by Western notions of separation, dominance, and later, preservation. The conference taking place in the Circumpolar North, and specifically in the diverse, multiethnic urban setting of Anchorage, reminds visitors that wilderness is not something to be sought after on a hiking excursion. Rather, it is a factor that may influence our food practices, such as the harvest of wild foods; economic and climatic constraints on production; and issues around access, storage, utilization, and distribution. Additionally, philosophical conceptualizations of nature exist in a specific power hierarchy, where rational and neoliberal systemic approaches push against traditional and ecological ways of knowing that problematize the distinction between “wilderness” and “civilization.”
We invite attendees to consider our conference’s unique location through metaphors such as frozen foods and wilderness in the context of worldwide food systems issues: the relationship between tradition, innovation and technology, gridlocked food policy discussions, ecological concerns, and reflections on our identities and belonging--especially as complicated by migration. The challenge of getting food on the table is a universal one that requires innovative solutions at the local, national, regional and global levels. Finding nourishment in this wilderness is no easy task, but we search nevertheless.
A Native-serving institution, UAA has over 17,000 students and offers over 100 programs. With its focus on diversity, international and intercultural initiatives, UAA is a central institution in Alaska. UAA is connected to 250 miles of trails with woods, mountain vistas, and ocean views, yet is also located in an urban center, Anchorage, a.k.a. Alaska’s largest village. This conference is hosted in partnership with Alaska Pacific University, an Anchorage-based liberal arts university with a mission to provide a world-class, hands-on, culturally responsive educational experience in collaboration with their students, communities, and Tribal partners. Campuses are located on the traditional homelands of the Dena'ina and Ahtna Athabascan, Alutiiq/Sugpiaq, and Eyak peoples.
The Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS) was founded in 1985, with the goals of promoting the interdisciplinary study of food and society. It has continued that mission by holding annual meetings; the first was in 1987 and since 1992, the meetings have been held jointly with AFHVS.
The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS) is a professional organization which provides an international forum to engage in the cross-disciplinary study of food, agriculture, and health, as well as an opportunity for examining the values that underlie various visions of food and agricultural systems. From a base of philosophers, sociologists, and anthropologists, AFHVS has grown to include scientists, scholars, and practitioners in areas ranging from agricultural production and social science to nutrition policy and the humanities. AFHVS encourages participation by the growing community of researchers and professionals exploring alternative visions of the food system from numerous perspectives and approaches, including local and regional food systems; alternative food movements; agricultural and food policies, agricultural sustainability, food justice, issues of local and global food security, and food sovereignty.