Prominent Figures

Bill Ashcroft

Bill Ashcroft is an Australian literary critic and founding exponent of post-colonial theory. He was instrumental to the founding of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, and advocated for Australian critics to pay attention to Australian literature in a cross-over comparative literature context, making a significant contribution to the construction of Australian post-colonial literary criticism. He has taught at the University of New South Wales since 1988. Bill Ashcroft’s major research areas include post-colonial literature and theory, Australian literature, African, Indian and Caribbean literature, and literary criticism theory. Together with Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin, he published The Empire Writes Back, the first systematic study of post-colonial theory. His new book Utopianism in Postcolonial Literatures expresses the thoughts on the future research direction of post-colonialism.

Elleke Boehmer

Elleke Boehmer, is Professor of World Literature in English at the University of Oxford. She is a founding figure in the field of colonial and post-colonial literary studies, and General Editor of the Oxford Studies in Post-colonial Literature Series. Boehmer is internationally known for her research in the anglophone literature of empire and anti-empire and her writing straddles a range of forms and genres, including cultural history, fiction, criticism, and life-writing. Among her best-known publications is the internationally cited and widely translated Colonial and Postcolonial Literature: Migrant Metaphors. Professor Boehmer was also a keynote speaker at the 2019 Triennial in Auckland.

Diana Brydon

Diana Brydon, an Emeritus Professor at the University of Manitoba, was president of Canadian Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (CACLALS) from 1989-1992. Brydon’s involvement with ACLALS started as she graduated as PhD student in 1977. Brydon credits ACLALS and her studies in Australia for shaping the early direction of her career. She states, “I think going to study in Australia was the most important decision I made but it’s hard to separate that from ACLALS … that’s when I first learned about ACLALS and when I met some of the people like Hlen and Chris Tiffen who had been very involved in ACLALS from early on.” (Brydon, 13:14-13:43). Brydon stresses that ACLALS addressed a gap between Eurocentric literature and other writers from all around the world and former colonial territories that otherwise do not get as much attention.

Ralph Crane

Ralph Crane is an emeritus professor at the School of English, University of Tasmania. “He is a past Chairperson of the South Pacific Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (SPACLALS), and past Vice-President (New Zealand) of the Association for the Study of Australasia in Asia(ASAA). During his involvement with ACLALS, Crane held multiple positions within ACLALS, especially in the South Pacific Branch. From 1994-96 and 1997-99, Crane was a representative for SPACLALS. In 1999, he co convened the SPACLALS international conference. Further, alongside Radhika Mohanram, Ralph co-edited the South Pacific Association journal known as SPAN from 1994-99. Crane has expressed appreciation towards ACLALS and the impact it has on his career. Specifically, Crane believes that the social interactions were the most impactful and memorable aspect of ACLALS conferences. When discussing his experience in ACLALS, Crane says, “I think really connecting with other scholars and writers … listening to other papers, … readings … the interaction that goes around that. … It’s that real social atmosphere of the Conference, I think, which is the most memorable thing, …” (Crane, 02:33 – 03:08) ACLALS motive to bring forward Indigenous literature and writers has complimented Crane’s focus on Indian literature.

Geoffrey V. Davis

Geoffrey V. Davis was a scholar of Commonwealth literature, and then post-colonial studies, and advocate of many initiatives associated with the literature from former Commonwealth countries. As the author, editor, or co-editor of more than thirty books, Professor Geoffrey V. Davis covered a wide range of issues in post-colonial studies. “His first commitment, and one that continued throughout his life, was to Zimbabwean and South African literatures.”(McCallum 1) “Geoff was three times Chair of the European Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (EACLALS) between 2002 and 2014, and international Chair of ACLALS from 2008-11”(Wilson 731). Furthermore, Davis, alongside Russell McDonald, initiated the project of documenting the history of ACLALS. The two colleagues worked together to interview members of ACLALS in various ways, such as through a questionnaire. 

D.C. R. A. Goonetilleke

D.C. R. A. Goonetilleke is Senior Professor and Department Head of English at the University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka. “His books include Developing Countries in British Fiction (1977), Images of the Raj (1988), and Joseph Conrad (1990). His international positions include World Chairman, Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies ACLALS and Vice-Chairman International Federation for Modern Languages and Literatures (FILLM)” (Goonetilleke 493). Goonetilleke is hopeful for the future of ACLALS. Goonetilleke says, “Given the use of current technology, Commonwealth Literature is likely to further understanding between countries and also further the understanding of literatures of other countries by promoting discussions of the literatures of specific regions or wider ideas.”

Gareth Griffiths

Gareth Griffiths, born in 1943, is a pioneer in the field of post-colonial literature and theory. He contributed to debates about the inter relationships of post-colonial literature, investigate the powerful forces acting on language in the post-colonial text, and show how these texts constitute a radical critique of Eurocentric notions of literature and language. With Bill Ashcroft and Helen Tiffin, he published the book The Empire Writes Back, which is the first major theoretical account of a wide range of post-colonial texts and their relation to the larger issues of post-colonial culture, and which remains one of the most significant works published in this field. He is also one of the editors of Post-colonial studies: the key concepts.

Bernard Hickey

Bernard Hickey, one of the pioneers of Australian and Commonwealth literary studies in Europe, died on 3 August 2007. His achievements in Venice were considerable and included founding an Australian Writers Studio, which played host to numerous visiting authors during the 1980s. “High points of these years were his hosting the European ACLALS triennial conference in 1990 and a celebration to mark his retirement in 2003, in which he was honored by academics from the various communities among which he had moved, as well as civic dignitaries and colleagues from Lecce itself” (Thieme 149).

A.Norman Jeffares

Professor A. Norman Jeffares was an early advocate of the study of Commonwealth Literature, and a founding member of the Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Study (ACLALS). He organized the inaugural conference at the University of Leeds in 1964, ‘Unity and Diversity in a Common Culture’, which led to the formation of ACLALS and the creation of the Journal of Commonwealth Literature. He was quite interested in Australian writing and “stressed the primacy of English language and literature as ‘parent stock’ from which other newer literatures spring” (Low 100).

Chee Seng Lim

“C[hee] S[eng] Lim is Professor in the Department of English at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur and the immediate past chairperson of the Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (ACLALS). A member of the executive committee of the International Shakespeare Association, he has edited two books of essays and has published articles on Shakespeare and other subjects in such journals as Cahiers Elisabethains (France), Notes & Queries (Oxford), and Southeast Asian Review of English” (Lim 275).

Selina Tusitala Marsh

Selina Tusitala Marsh is the first person of Pacific descent to receive the New Zealand Poet Laureateship (2017–19). She successfully co-hosted the Triennial Conference of the Association for the Study of Commonwealth Literature and Languages (ACLALS) at the University of Auckland (July 2019), which was “a major international academic gathering devoted, among other things, to discussing New Zealand’s position in this uncommonly flexible set of social, political, legal and economic forms of association” (Fresno-Calleja 153).

Ranjini Mendis

Ranjini Mendis is a scholar of post-colonial studies who chaired the 14thIinternational Triennial conference of the Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies, held in Vancouver, in August 2007. She is one of the editors of the book Literature for Our Times: Postcolonial Studies in the Twenty-First Century. 

Radhika Mohanram

Radhika Mohanram was a member of SPACLALS, where she held the secretary position. Mohanram has attended various conferences, both branch and triennial, and the most memorable aspect of attending conferences is the social interaction. Radhika reminisces that over the years, attendees “… become close friends, so the social aspects were truly the best for me.” (Mohanram, 04:07-04:42) Professor Mohanram is now the chair of European ACLALS. 

Alastair Niven

Niven was the editor of the Journal of Commonwealth Literature who took over from the founding editor Arthur Ravenscroft in 1978. He was involved with “the international Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (ACLALS), the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize” (Barringer 302).

Senath Perrera

Senath Walter Perrera is an Emeritus Professor of English at Peradnia University, Sri Lanka. Perera is a significant member of ACLALS for the multiple positions and conferences he has attended. From 1982-85, Senath Walter Perera was the Secretary of the Sri Lanka Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (SLACLALS). From 1995-2010, Perera was a committee member of SLACLALS and from 2010 to today, he currently is the chairperson of SLACLALS. Overall, Senath Walter Perera has attended 8 SLACLAS branch conferences, 2 IACLALS branch conferences, 2 EACLALS branch conferences, and 6 ACLALS triennial conferences where he presented multiple papers. Perera’s time to ACLALS as well as his own research interests have contributed to his presence in South Asian Literature in English. Perera says, “… in 1998 I was invited to be a judge for the then very prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize. Subsequently, in 2002 and 2003, I became the only Sri Lankan to be regional chair for the Commonwealth Writers Prize.”

Victor Ramraj

Victor Ramraj, was a longtime editor of ARIEL and former president of the Canadian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (CACLALS).

Arthur Ravenscroft

Arthur Ravenscroft, founding editor of Journal of Commonwealth Literature, was described by his colleagues as humane, liberal, and erudite. The depth of his understanding came partly from his personal knowledge of repression and racialism in South Africa, but it could not have been articulated without his educated sensibility. “Arthur Ravenscroft represented the best of a tradition which is based on close inspection of the text, of seeing literature as an expression of imaginative creativity rooted in an understanding of character and language” (Niven).

Anna Rutherford

Anna Rutherford, former Chairperson of European and International ACLALS, died in Sydney on 21 February 2001. She was one of the central figures in the birth of the Commonwealth literary movement, and a leading critic of Australian literature. “During the 1970s and 1980s Anna Rutherford was the key figure in ACLALS,” (Niven 66) and was much respected by the Commonwealth Foundation. Her goal was to promote the world’s best writing, whatever its provenance, which inevitably involves discovering and promoting writers from the “post-colonial margins” (Hickey 148).

Helen Tiffin 

Helen Tiffin is an influential writer in post-colonial theory and literary studies, and has participated in every ACLALS conference since the inception of the organiztion. She was chair Professor of English and Canadian Studies at Queen’s University, where she taught English and post-colonial Studies, and previously taught at the University of Tasmania. Tiffin’s research and teaching interests include the history of colonial and post-colonial settler societies, literature in English, Caribbean studies, literary theory, and the literary and cultural representation of animals. One of her representative works is Post-colonial Literatures and Counter-discourse, and in Postcolonial Ecocriticism, Helen Tiffin and Graham Huggan examine relationships between humans, animals and the environment in post-colonial texts. She is one of the editors of The Post Colonial Studies Reader and the authors of The Empire Writes Back, both published by Routledge.

Harish Trivedi

Harish Trivedi, one of India’s leading post-colonial critics, is the former chair of the Indian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies and also was the chief organizer of the association. He is a professor in the Department of English at the University of Delhi, working on post-colonial writing and post-colonial translation. He co-edited a collection of essays, Post-colonial Translation: Theory and Practice, with Susan Bassnett, a renowned Translation scholar in the UK, in a debate with whom, Trivedi coined the term “Cyber Coolie.” One of his monographs is Colonial transactions: English literature and India.

Chris Lukorito Wanjala

Chris Lukorito Wanjala, one of the leading literary critics from East African was a Professor of Literature at the University of Nairobi and was as a long-time member of the Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (ACLALS). He passed away in October 2018. He attended the 14th triennial conference of ACLALS in Vancouver Canada in August 2007, in which he presented a proposal for the establishment of an East African branch of ACLALS. He was the Chairperson of the Chapter until 2012.