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Updates from Sangeeta Ray

May 06, 2021 English

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Sangeeta Ray retires as President of the American Comparative Literature Association After Successful Virtual Conference

In April 2021, UMD English professor Sangeeta Ray completed her role as President of the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA). As president of the organization she played a key role at the annual conference, April 8-11, 2021. English graduate student Sara Faradji worked for ACLA in the last month offering tech support among other things.  Despite being virtual, the conference attendance was  impressive with over 2,700 participants from around the world. Part of this was due to Ray's pioneering efforts to reduce registration fees in half and offer waivers to over 500 graduate student and contingent faculty members.

Sangeeta Ray

As President of ACLA, (2020-2021), Sangeeta Ray hosted and moderated  the opening reception with two readings by MacArthur fellows, Mojave poet Natalie Diaz (Postcolonial Love Poem) and renowned Mexican poet, novelist, translator and critic  Cristina River Garcia (No One Will See me Cry; Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country) followed by an hour long Q&A.

On Friday Ray moderated past president, Professor Wail Hassan's Presidential address (the 2020 conference was canceled), titled, "Geopolitics of Comparison: World Literature avant la lettre." On Friday evening, she, along with second VP, Professor Rei Terada, moderated the Presidential plenary panel, "The Poetics of Protest: From Africa to Minnesota" with Professors R.A Judy (author of Sentient Flesh) and Calvin Warren (author of Ontological Terror).  On Saturday afternoon she hosted a keynote  panel, first of its kind for ACLA, with 5 young scholars who had published their first book titled: Comparative Studies and the Politics, Logics and Rhetoric of the New Redistribution." Finally on Saturday evening Ray gave her Presidential address, titled, "Comparative Negligence and Disconnect: the Case of India's Northeast literature," and presided over the awards ceremony.

As Sangeeta Ray puts it, "Working with ACLA over the last 5 years has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my academic career. It is the one place where academics can gather across language barriers and think deeply about the place of comparative studies in an increasingly anglophone and US centric world."