About International Comparative Literature Association (ICLA)

Founded in 1955, the International Comparative Literature Association (ICLA) offers a home to all comparatists in the world and encourages exchange and cooperation among comparatists, both individually and through the collaboration of various national comparative literature associations. To that end the Association promotes literary studies beyond the boundaries of languages and national literary traditions, between cultures and world regions, among disciplines and theoretical orientations, and across genres, historical periods, and media. Its broad view of comparative research extends to the study of sites of difference such as race, gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity, and religion in both texts and the everyday world.


The Association aims to be inclusive and is open to anyone with an academic interest in comparative literature, including writers and artists. It welcomes the participation of graduate students and early-career scholars.

The Association organizes a world congress every three years. It also oversees and supports research committees that reflect the membership’s current interests and meet more regularly to pursue agenda leading to publications in journals and books. The Association’s annual journal Recherche littéraire / Literary Research contains essays and reviews a wide range of scholarship in the field. For further details about the journal, please visit https://www.ailc-icla.org/literary-research/

The ECARE Committee of the ICLA is pleased to announce the following prizes open to graduate students and early career researchers*:

  1.     Best Graduate Paper Prize: Awarded to a graduate student who delivers an excellent paper at an International Congress of the AILC-ICLA. The prize will be awarded for the first time at the 2022 ICLA Congress in Tbilisi. The paper can be nominated by any active ICLA member who heard the paper given on the ICLA programme by using a designated nomination form. The nominee must be an active ICLA member and enrolled in a doctoral programme in comparative literature or in a related field at the time of the Congress when the paper is given. The length of the paper should remain at the 20-minute length as given on the programme. Winners will receive a cash prize of US $250 and publication of their paper in the Association’s journal Recherche Littéraire/Literary Research. Although the award will be conferred by December 2022, the recipient of the award will also be mentioned at the General Assembly of the next Congress in 2025.
  2.     First Book Subvention: This annual award provides funding for a subvention for an early-career scholar’s first book to be published as a monograph in the field of comparative literature, broadly conceived. The author must be an active ICLA member. The amount of the prize will depend largely on the subvention amount required by the publisher, but the prize will not exceed the equivalent of US $1500 in any given year. In the years in which there is no ICLA Congress, this award will be conferred at a special online event before 31 December of the same year in which applications/nominations were made. A book proposal, a CV, a copy of the book contract detailing the subvention amount, and a sample chapter from the proposed book must be submitted for consideration by the deadline. The winner’s name, institutional affiliation, and proposed book title will be published in the AILC-ICLA Newsletter and on the website, and the book will be reviewed in Recherche Littéraire/Literary Research after its publication. The winners of this award in years in which there is no ICLA Congress will be mentioned at the next ICLA General Assembly.
  3.     Best Translation Prize: This award is for an outstanding translation in the form of an article, chapter, or other short work, published by an early-career scholar in the period between ICLA Congresses. The nominee or candidate must be an active ICLA member. The translation can be between any two languages and applicants/nominees are required to submit the published translation, the source text, and a CV. The award carries a cash prize of US $1000. The winner’s name, institutional affiliation, and title of the translation piece will be announced in the AILC-ICLA Newsletter and on the website, and an abstract of the translation published in the Association’s journal Recherche Littéraire/Literary Research.

 For further details, please visit https://www.ailc-icla.org/ailc-icla-ecare-ecr-prizes/




Participation Grants:

Participation Grants (previously “Travel Grants”) in particular (but not only) to participate in an AILC-ICLA International Congress will be offered to Early Career Researchers (including doctoral students) as well as to more senior scholars in countries or contexts that make it extremely difficult for them to finance their participation in ICLA events. For details, please visit https://www.ailc-icla.org/prizes-grants-and-subventions/


The Anna Balakian Prize

As outlined in the Bulletin of the International Association of Comparative Literature (AILC-ICLA), vol. 22.2, the Anna Balakian Prize was officially announced on August 14, 2004, as part of the XVII AILC-ICLA Congress in Hong Kong. The prize, in the amount of US $ 1,000, comes from a joint donation from the family of Anna Balakian and the Friends of the AILC-ICLA. Its purpose is to promote the scientific research of young comparatists and to honor the memory of Professor Anna Balakian, a well-known comparatist.

The prize is presented at the triennial Congress of the ICLA in order to reward an exceptional first monograph in the field of comparative literary studies, written by a single author who has not attained the age of 40 years. For details regarding submission of monograph, please visit https://www.ailc-icla.org/balakian-prize/




Group Proposals accepted for presentation during XXIIIrd Congress of the ICLA, Tbilisi, Georgia (24 July – 29 July 2022)


Group Session No. 008- South Asian Visions of Africa and African/Diasporic Literatures


Organized by: Prof. Debarati Chakraborty



The Global South as an ideational and geopolitical space is most commonly defined in terms of a “shared postcoloniality”. However, does such a shared “postcondition” imply experiential uniformity? A majority of South Asian and African nations being directly colonised by Great Britain experienced cultural contacts with one another through the English language, which carried the baggage of British colonial prejudices. Such a history is reflected in the study of literatures and cultures of Africa in South Asia to this date.

In the past few decades there has been an increasing awareness about pre-colonial contacts between South Asia and Africa which include relations of trade and shared Islamicate cultural experiences, alongside the movements of peoples across colonies. Additionally, the plurality of the African colonial experience is evidenced by translations primarily into English from Francophone African literatures, and to a lesser extent, Lusophone African literatures. Moreover, translations of African texts into South Asian languages generate fertile zones of contact. These translated texts, in turn, reflect the complexities of colonially mediated receiving cultures.

This panel seeks to problematise notions or assumptions of homogeneities across the Global Souths. We seek to examine the plurality of colonial experiences specifically with regard to South Asian visions of Africa that are often coloured by colonially inherited racialist discourses. We also seek to address similar concerns from the perspectives of the African and South Asian Diasporas—literary and theoretical.

We invite abstracts (250-300 words) addressing the general theme of the panel (to be submitted to debarati.c@technoindiaeducation.com). Subthemes may include, but are not limited to:

  • Colonialism and racism
  • Oral and performative traditions
  • Identity and Language Politics in/and Africa
  • Systems of Contact: Literature and Music
  • Translations of African texts into South Asian languages
  • Translations of South Asian texts into African languages
  • Dispossession, Degradation, Despoliation: Recolonising Land
  • Cultural Contact and Plurality
  • Neocolonialism and Neoliberal economic policies
  • Globalisation and Africa
  • Afrofuturism and Afropessimism

Keywords: South-south, Transnationalism (Africa – South Asia), Disporas, Postcolonialism, Translation.


Group Session No. 021- Socialist Realism – Soviet Intentions and Receptions in the Exploited Worlds


Organized by: Prof. Kunal Chattopadhyay



Socialist Realism as a genre of literary writing was imagined and worked out between about 1928 and the Writers’ Congress of 1934. Communist and fellow traveller authors were expected to write in the ‘realist’ mode about proletarian heroes and their evolution in a positive direction, with the party mindedness highlighted. However, the reception of this concept from the USSR and/or the advanced capitalist countries  to the colonial and semi-colonial countries witnessed many transformations. This of course makes it necessary to question the present day, seemingly neutral categories North and South. The USSR for all its bureaucratic degeneration cannot be treated as identical with imperialist capitalism [ a collective North], nor can we flatten Asian, African and Latin American countries into one relatively homogeneous global South.  In different countries,  the organic connections with the literate authors producing novels and short stories were often with peasants rather than a modern proletariat. Racism was an issue that was perceived in a very different way in the South, with an articulation of not only oppression but also resistance.

Papers in this group will address the following concerns (not an exhaustive list but suggested themes):

  • Socialist Realism and the debates over it as expressed by Soviet and major Marxists from the North (Gorky, Zhdanov, Lukacs, Garaudy) and their reception in the Global south
  • Class struggle, national liberation and the fiction of progressives
  • Finding the Proletarian Hero in the colony/semi-colony
  • Racism, anti-racism and Socialist Realism
  • Why the South is not homogeneous—or comparing diversities of Socialist Realism within the Global South
  • Class and Caste in South Asian Socialist Realism
  • Gender in the Socialist Realist/Communist/Progressive literatures

Group Sesion No. 024- Transnationalism and the Languages/Literatures of the Global South: South Asian Perspectives


Organized by: ICLA Standing Research Committee on ‘South Asian Literature and Culture. Prof. Chandra Mohan

English, French


The terms “Transnational” and “Transnationalism” imply an interconnected world with accelerated circuits of travel, communication and exchange of goods, cultural as well as material. While the term “international” privileges nations, nation-states and official agencies, the term, ‘transnational’ suggests “sustained linkages and ongoing exchanges among non-state actors based across national borders” (Steven Verovec). The transnational does not transcend the idea of the nation or nation-states, but emphasizes a domain of dialogues across peoples and cultures without the mediation of national agencies or identities. Today we live in a deeply interconnected world, where ideas, texts, people and entire communities are constantly on the move deepening questions of diversity, hybridity and plurality, problematising questions of identity, rootedness and allegiance to mother-tongues or nation-states. Though the Covid situation has altered the momentum to some extent, we understand more than ever that the destinies of people are interconnected across the world.

The question of global south enables us to view the transnational from a non-European, non-American, postcolonial perspective locating its axis across Asian, African and South American continents and their histories. Though the term has greater currency in the domain of economics and politics, we need to re-signify it from as a South Asian cultural perspective. Jennifer Harford Vargas published an article in EPW in 2008, under the title, “A tale of two novels from the Global South” dealing with Fakir Mohan Senapathi’s Six Acres and a Third and Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. We would welcome multiple nuanced approaches to the term ‘global south’ from the various contexts of South Asia, considering the presence of large South Asian diasporas across the globe. Our focus will be on the languages and cultures of the global south participating in the production of transnational spaces and communities. Plurilingual and pluricultural dimensions of South Asian history and culture will enable us situate Global South outside the frame of hegemonic discourses dictated by Euro-centric notions of theory.  There are also parallels to be drawn between the Latin American, the Caucasian and the South Asian cultures with reference to their colonial encounters and postcolonial negotiations.

The seminar will look at the South Asian experience of transnationalism as revealed through its art and literatures as well as philosophies and knowledge systems. Fictional works, travel writings, (auto)biographies, historical narratives, films, theatre, performative/story telling traditions etc will open up sites of exchanges, dialogues and self-critical discourses. Many authors writing today (we are not naming anyone as there are too many) are not available for analysis in terms of essentialist notions of nationalities and ethnicities.  The nation as the sole point of reference in all matters of culture and politics falsifies the tenor of lives lived on the ever-widening frontiers and borders in today’s transnational world of interconnections. This can be seen in the films, fictions and pluricultural narratives produced in South Asia. A new group of ‘nomadic’ writers have caught the imagination of young readers across the world. Digital media have deepened these trends as texts are now disseminated across large transnational spaces within a short time. Questions of space and time, self and identity, memory and history have now acquired different connotations to readers and audiences who are located in transnational spaces/contexts. Some of the sub-themes that can be taken up for discussion are mentioned below:

  1. Plurilingualism/Pluriculturalism in the context of Transnationalism
  2. Memory, history and migrations
  3. Translating the local/regional to a transnational audience
  4. Global South as a site of cultural exchange/resistance
  5. Mainstreams and the Margins in the South Asian mosaic of cultures
  6. From colonial to postcolonial in Caucasian and South Asian literatures
  7. Caucasian literature in South Asian Languages and Vice-Versa: In a Changed World Relation
  8. Digital humanities and the transnational.




Group Session No. 038 – Cultural Exchange along the Silk Roads: Reading Central Asia through South Asian Representations

Organized by: CLAI Prof. T. S. Satyanath, Prof. Amitava Chakraborty



The emergence of the Afro-Eurasian world system established regional-continental links during its first phase (3500–500 BCE) and transcontinental links during the second phase (500 BCE–1600 CE). Though exchange of material cultural products through trade was the primary motive of such a world system, it had far-reaching consequences resulting in a series of cultural exchanges among the regions involved. This period could be broadly viewed as a consequence of two dominant cultural currents. The first one—Buddhism and its cultural sphere along the Silk Roads during 130 BCE to 1450 CE—resulted in the exchange of literary and material cultures within the region of South, Central and East Asia. The second one—consequent to the expansion of Islam and the involvement of Arabs in the Spice Route trade from 750 CE to 1500 CE—led to a paradigm shift in the exchange of literary and material culture over West, Central, South, and Southeast Asia. There were also dialogues between Christianity, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and Manicheism.

The proposed panel attempts to provide comparative perspectives on Central Asia from South Asia keeping literary cultures as its focus. Multilinguality and pluri-culturality; cosmopolitan and vernacular writing cultures; elite, folk and popular public spheres; intermedial representations; and syncretic cultures have been characteristic features of South Asian literary cultures. Looking at Central Asia from the perspective of such a diverse social epistemology of language, religion, caste, and sectarian constituents could possibly provide hitherto unknown readings of the literary cultures of the region. We envision papers working within the broad outline proposed here such as movement of religious ideas, themes and genres, literary texts, translations, Buddhism and Sufism, folk and performing traditions, and material cultures.

Keywords: Silk Roads, Central Asia, South Asia, Comparative Perspectives


Group Session No. 045- Expressions of Widowhood across Cultures: Social Constructions and Contestations


Organized by: Saheb Kaur, Prof. Amitava Chakraborty



The idea of Widowhood is often understood as synonymous to loneliness ensured by the void after a partner’s demise. The social understanding of pain and acceptance of this emptiness nurtures and re-affirms traditional and cultural paradigms that place women within the category of widows. Amongst various categories used to define the identity of women, widowhood has been a very important one. Various cultures have constructed widowhood in different ways through time and region, imposing its practice through ascribing certain codes of appearance, conduct and possibilities of sexuality that often result in total denial of the self and the suspension of all desires. At the same time, there have been instances of resistance to the prescribed roles, individually, as well as socially, which form an important part of the history of movements for women’s right to define their social and sexual possibilities.

This panel proposes to interrogate various literary and cultural representations of widowhood across contemporary cultures within a comparative studies framework. The objective would be to understand such representations, for instance, the isolation and deprivation that they encounter, and their contestation of the stereotypes, preferably from multiple genres, in the context of the immediate socio-cultural locations and the implication of such representations for the given constructions of widowhood. Interpretative focus may range from larger socio-cultural implications to individual attempts at deifying or redefining the given notions of sexual, apparel, beauty, socio-organizational, professional, psychological and ontological roles. Taken together, this panel is expected to understand the complex constructions, pronounced or otherwise, of widowhood in various cultures and women’s journeys through the same in defining and expressing their own ways and voices.