2019 Conference:

Finding Home in the "Wilderness":
Explorations in Belonging in Circumpolar Food Systems

June 26-29, 2019



The University of Alaska Anchorage, in collaboration with Alaska Pacific University, is pleased to host the 2019 Joint Annual Meetings and Conference of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society (AFHVS) and the Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS).

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 highly valued and particularly important for the food systems concerns. This special relationship between the land and people is also evident in 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 our students, communities, and Tribal partners. Campuses are located on the traditional homelands of the Dena'ina and Ahtna Athabascan, Alutiiq/Sugpiaq, and Eyak peoples.

Access the conference website here.

First abstract submission deadline: October 21, 2018. CFP and instructions are available here.




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