CACLALS 2019 Keynote Speakers: Bios and Abstracts

We are delighted to announce our three distinguished keynote speakers for CACLALS 2019.

Photo by Joy van Tiedemann

David Chariandy is a Professor in the Department of English at Simon Fraser University and a well-known scholar in the fields of Black, Canadian, and Caribbean literatures. Chariandy teaches contemporary literature, especially Black, Canadian, and Caribbean prose forms. He also teaches creative writing and cultural studies. His scholarly criticism has been published in journals such as Callaloo, Transition Magazine, The Journal of West Indian Literature, Postcolonial Text, The Global South, and Topia, as well as in academic books such as the Oxford Handbook of Canadian Literature, The Routledge Companion to Caribbean Literature, and Narratives of Citizenship. He has co-edited three special issues of journals, most recently Transition Magazine 124: “Writing Black Canadas.”

His first novel entitled Soucouyant was nominated for eleven literary awards and prizes. It was longlisted for the 2007 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the 2008 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and was shortlisted for the 2007 Governor General’s Award for English-language fiction, the 2008 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book of Canada and the Caribbean, the 2008 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, the 2008 City of Toronto Book Award, the 2008 ReLit Award for fiction, and the 2007 Books in Canada First Novel Award. His second novel entitled Brother was longlisted for Canada Reads and the Scotiabank Giller Prize, named on eight year-end Canadian ‘Best Books’ lists, and won the 2017 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the 2018 Toronto Book Award. His latest work of creative non-fiction is entitled I’ve Been Meaning To Tell You: A Letter To My Daughter. Chariandy’s books have been published internationally and have been translated (or are currently being translated) into French, German, Spanish, Swedish, Catalan, Albanian, and Simplified Chinese. Originally from Scarborough, Ontario, Chariandy was trained at Carleton University (BA and MA) and York University (PhD).



In Dionne Brand’s recent novel Theory, the unidentified speaker attempts to complete a wildly ambitious thesis, confronting not only the distracting forces of three consecutive lovers, but also the question of ‘Theory’ itself, and the contradictions between the ideal of freely revolutionary research and writing, and the strictures of institutionally sanctioned language, methods, and references. One decidedly minor character appearing in a footnote near the end of the novel is ‘Chariandy,’ whose enthusiastic commentary on the writings of the brilliant ‘Xavier Simon’ serves, perhaps, as but a further cautionary illustration of the tension between authorized academic criticism and the sublime energies of Black art.

In the proposed work of auto-fiction, we will attempt to excavate the story of the mysterious ‘Chariandy,’ exploring his own complicated romance with ‘Theory’ in an academic moment and setting defined by post-structural melancholia, gloomy utilitarian architecture, an increasingly vocal racialized student body, and the neo-liberal assault upon an ostensibly ‘radical’ university. In particular, we will explore ‘Chariandy’s’ efforts to complete an original thesis on Black Canadian literature while secretly pursuing what he assumes is Theory’s wholly discredited notion of ‘creative writing.’

[1] A footnote.

(This event is co-hosted with ACCUTE)


Photo by Tanja Tiziana

Jasbir K. Puar is Professor and Graduate Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, where she has been a faculty member since 2000. Her most recent book is The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability (2017) published with Duke University Press in the series ANIMA: Critical Race Studies Otherwise that she co-edits with Mel Chen. Puar is the author of award-winning Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (2007), which has been translated into Spanish and French and re-issued in an expanded version for its 10th anniversary (December 2017).

Puar’s edited volumes include a special issue of GLQ (“Queer Tourism: Geographies of Globalization”) and co-edited volumes of Society and Space (“Sexuality and Space”), Social Text (“Interspecies”), and Women’s Studies Quarterly (“Viral”). She also writes for The Guardian, Huffington Post, Art India, The Feminist Review, Bully Bloggers, Jadaliyya, and Oh! Industry. Her writings have been translated into Polish, French, German, Croatian, Swedish, Norwegian, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Danish.

Puar’s major awards include a 2018 Fellowship from the Palestinian American Research Council, the 2013-14 Society for the Humanities Fellowship at Cornell University, the Edward Said Chair of American Studies 2012-13 at the American University of Beirut, a Rockefeller Fellowship at the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center (1999-2000) and a Ford Foundation grant for archival and ethnographic documentation work (2002-2003). She received the 2013 Modern Languages Association Gay Lesbian/Queer Caucus Michael Lynch Award for her years of scholar-activist work. In January 2013 she was honored with the Robert Sutherland Visitorship at Queens University, awarded to “a notable individual with expertise in race relations.” She has also received two awards for her graduate teaching, in 2011 from the Graduate School of Rutgers University and in 2012 from the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools. In 2017 Puar’s article “Bodies with New Organs: Becoming Trans, Becoming Disabled” (Social Text #124) was awarded the Modern Language Association’s Gay Lesbian/Queer Caucus’s Crompton-Noll Prize for Best LGBTQ Studies Article.

Distinguished lectureships include the Butrill Endowed Fund for Ethics Lecture at Texas A&M University (2017); the Hull Lecture on Women and Justice at University of California Santa Barbara (2015); the Lionel Cantu Memorial lecture at University of California Santa Cruz (2014); Henry Jackson Endowed Lectureship in International Relations at Whitman College (2014); the Peg Zeglin Brand Lecturer at Indiana University (2013); Whidden Lecturer at McMaster University (2013); Distinguished Visiting Professor at the American University of Cairo (2012); the Institute of Women’s Studies’ Shirley Greenberg Lecture at the University of Ottawa (2012).


Spatial Debilities: Slow Life and Carceral Capitalism in Palestine

There has been much written on the forms of control enacted in the splintering occupation of Palestine, in particular regarding mobility, identity, and spatiality, yet this vast scholarship has presumed the prominence of the abled-body that is hindered through the infrastructures of occupation. In this lecture I examine the splintering occupation in relation to disability and the spatial distribution of debilitation, highlighting the logistics of border crossings and movement in the West Bank in relation to disability rights frameworks. I argue two things: one, that the creation of what Celeste Langan terms “mobility disabilities” through both corporeal assault and infrastructural and bureaucratic means are not only central to the calculus of the occupation, but importantly, linked logics of debilitation; and two, that these calibrations of various types of movement are forms of carceral containment and enclosure that render specific stretchings of space and time, what we could call slow life.

(This event is co-hosting with ACCUTE)


Photo: Standford University

David Palumbo-Liu’s fields of interest include social and cultural criticism, literary theory and criticism, East Asian and Asia Pacific American studies. His most recent book, The Deliverance of Others: Reading Literature in a Global Age (Duke, 2012) addresses the role of contemporary humanistic literature with regard to the instruments and discourses of globalization, seeking to discover modes of affiliation and transnational ethical thinking; he is also co-editor with Bruce Robbins and Nirvana Tanoukhi of Immanuel Wallerstein and the Problem of the World: System, Scale, Culture (Duke, 2011).  Palumbo-Liu is most interested in issues regarding social theory, community, race and ethnicity, justice, globalization, ecology, and the specific role that literature and the humanities play in helping us address each of these areas.  He is the founding editor of Occasion: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (found on Arcade) and blogs for TruthOut and The Boston Review. He is also a Contributing Editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books and on the HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science & Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) Steering Committee and the Academic Steering and Advocacy Committee of the Open Library of the Humanities.


Ethics Before Comparison

“Ethics Before Comparison” considers the project of comparison as first of all an ethical one.  Before we begin to draw comparisons between cultures, languages, and literatures, it is critical to first recognize the assumptions that undergird the very act of comparison.  For example, when setting forth to compare novels from Japan and France, what do we understand the novel form to be?  What counts as a narrative?  Most importantly, what might the consequences of denying a national culture a “form” such as a novel?  What kinds of moral and ethical judgments might we be tempted to make about that “lack”?  At base is an attempt to realize the potentials and weaknesses of such an idea as a “global citizen.” As such, the talk extends far beyond the classroom to connect with people of all ages and occupations.

(This event is co-hosted with CCLA and ACCUTE)