By its nature, comparative literature is a discipline which demands dialogue within and across national borders. The free movement of students and scholars, to and from universities, academic conferences, and other places of research and teaching, is therefore of the utmost importance to our discipline. In turn, the discipline and practices of comparative literature are important for fostering mutual understanding and respect across and among cultures, languages, ethnicities, religions, and national boundaries.
The American Comparative Literature Association’s bylaws commit us to the support and strengthening of comparative literature studies, and emphasize that membership is open to anyone of any geographical, scholarly, and linguistic area who is interested in furthering our objectives. Our bylaws also commit us to aid individual members in their studies in comparative literature.
The Executive Committee of the ACLA remains firmly committed to those founding convictions. The executive order signed by the President on January 27 limits entry into the United States for refugees, and for those from seven predominantly Muslim nations. This same executive order also limits the travel of immigrants resident in the United States, again disproportionately affecting Muslim populations. This disrupts the work of scholars of comparative literature, and impedes research, teaching, and scholarly communication, most urgently for those of our members directly implicated in this order, but meaningfully for each of us, and for the discipline as a whole.
The mutual respect of individuals and communities, distinct in whatever ways, is a cornerstone of humanities scholarship generally and of comparative literature in particular. This order not only threatens our professional capacities to engage in dialogue with one another, but it threatens to damage and impede mutual understanding among peoples nationally and internationally.
The ACLA will continue to monitor closely the implications of this order and subsequent administrative actions. We will attempt to ensure that those affected by this order are able to participate in our annual meetings, both this summer in Utrecht, and in subsequent years, including facilitating virtual participation for those unable to travel because of this order. We will also advocate for and support, by the means available to us, scholars of comparative literature whose work and lives are affected by this order.
We join with our fellow learned societies in the United States, with many universities and colleges, as well as with many in the international community, in calling on the President and Congress to reverse this executive order and to denounce religious intolerance.