The African Literature Association 2020 Conference has been cancelled over Coronavirus concerns.
Coronavirus concerns have continued being at the centre of world activities in the last few weeks as the contagious illness goes throughout the world. Many countries have imposed bans on activities that bring large groups of people thus avoiding spreading the contagion. The world of literature hasn’t been spared from these actions. In the last few weeks, we have seen the cancellation of the book fairs of London and Paris, the African Book Fair in Berlin and earlier today the Time of the Writer in Durban, South Africa.
The African Literature Association is an independent organization of scholars, teachers, and writers from around the world. It was founded in 1974 by scholars who voiced a need for more time and space to be devoted to literary and cultural studies. One of the highlights of the association is the annual conference which would be running for the forty sixth time this year. It was going to be hosted in Washington D.C. from May 27 – June 1, 2020 with the theme “Beyond Censorship? Literature, Film, Media and Public Discourse”.
It has emerged that the executive committee running the conference has cancelled it with the following communication from the association’s president;
Dear ALA members, colleagues, and friends,
It is with tremendous regret that the EC announces the cancellation of the 2020 ALA Annual meeting. Given the current crisis brought on by the novel corona virus pandemic, it is against anyone’s best interest to try to proceed with a gathering of this size.
Any papers and panels that have been accepted for the 2020 conference will automatically be included in the 2021 conference program if the proposer verifies that they wish to be on the 2021 program–we will be reaching out to everyone in the Fall.
If you have already registered for the conference, your registration fees will be refunded unless you choose to donate them to the organization—please watch your email for details on registration refunds. Memberships will not be refunded. If you have already reserved a hotel room, please contact the Marriot Wardman Park to cancel—there should be no charges associated with those reservations as of this date. For travel arrangements that may have already been booked, you will need to contact the airlines directly. If you have already applied for a visa, we recommend that you keep any appointments and ask for a visa that would extend to June 1st of next year (2021) in order to be ready for the 2021 conference.
This has been a tough year for the organization in many ways but we have faith that our members will remain steadfast and bear with us until we can all meet in scholarly fellowship again in Washington DC from May 26th-May 29th, 2021.
Stay healthy, keep your communities healthy, and we anticipate with joy our next meeting in 2021,
Ann Elizabeth Willey
President, African Literature Association
Professor of English, University of Louisville