Tips for Attending Your First Food Studies Conference

Last weekend, I attended the AFHVS / ASFS 2018 Annual Conference, one of the biggest food studies conferences in the United States. I attended as a student member of the Association for the Study of Food and Society.  This was my first time attending this conference, and my first time presenting at an academic conference, and I had a blast.  Here are some tips for anyone considering attending next year’s conference in Anchorage, Alaska:


  1. Present! Food Studies is a welcoming discipline, and the community is eager to see what young scholars are working on.  You don’t have to worry about having the audience tear apart your paper; it’s much more likely they will offer congratulations, share resources, and give you new ideas.  By presenting your research you will build your brand in food studies, make connections with people who have similar research interests, and practice your public speaking skills.  When you submit your application to present at the conference, try to submit as part of a panel.  You can organize this panel with other graduate students in your program, or send out a call for papers to the academic group you are a part of (I posted my cfp to the BU Gastronomy facebook page and the ASFS list serv).
  2. Prepare! Read through the program and make note of presenters whose names you recognize or panels with topics you just can’t miss. It will take some of the chaos out of the conference if you have ideas of where you want to go.
  3. Pitch! Make sure to have a three-sentence description of your research or interests. It’s okay to be vague, but people will ask so it’s best to be prepared.  If you’re looking for new opportunities, this short pitch can be a great chance to find them: if the person you’re sharing your interests with knows someone working on a similar topic, they can introduce you.

IMG_25784. Network! Don’t worry if you don’t know many other people going to the conference. You can just walk up to any person or group and introduce yourself (seriously!).  This is a chance to expand your food studies network, so take advantage of the social events and avoid hanging out only with people you already know.  Business cards can be helpful but they’re definitely not necessary.

5. Explore the City! Take the opportunity to get to know the location the conference is in.  Try some local foods, learn the history, and respect local food practices.



Panel photo by KC Hysmith


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