What does the term "Global Anglophone" signify? As a new Assistant Professor of Global Anglophone and English Literature, I should ostensibly have an answer to this question since it was what I was hired to teach. But I was not trained to be a Global Anglophonist, per se. Rather, I was trained as a postcolonialist in a department of Comparative Literature whose faculty stressed the importance of reading texts in vernaculars other than English, and moreover, of challenging the primacy and hegemony of the Anglophone in literary study (and, truthfully, in the globe writ large). And yet, I am now an Assistant Professor of Global Anglophone Literature with duties to teach and research in this field. This term, "Global Anglophone," was not one I had encountered before entering the academic job market for the first time in 2014. I am not alone in this regard. "In 2016...I discovered I was a 'global Anglophonist,'" writes Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan in her introduction to the recent Interventions 2018 special issue, "From Postcolonial to World Anglophone: South Asia as a Test Case." This "discovery" took place in the course of entering the market, during which the listings "that recognized me were all positions in global Anglophone and world literatures within departments of English in the US. "1 That special issue, to which I was a contributor myself, grew from a 2016 panel of early-career South Asianists at the Annual Conference on South Asia held at UW Madison. The aim was to interrogate the ways being hired under the aegis of the Global Anglophone has come to bear upon scholars (and thus scholarship) of South Asian literary studies, particularly for those whose primary research is in South Asian vernacular languages rather than "English" as such. The discussion included Roanne Kantor (now at Stanford University), Monika Bhagat-Kennedy (now at University of Mississippi), and Akshya Saxena (now at Vanderbilt University), and me (now at University of Nevada, Reno). Our overarching concern in that panel and subsequent special issue was to examine what was being lost in forgoing historical and political specificityespecially in the instance of South Asiaas "postcolonial" appears to lose intellectual ground to Global Anglophone in literary studies. We lose a great deal, of course. But the truth is that despite our most vociferous protestations, Global Anglophone as a disciplinary category may very well be here to stay. Srinivasan notes that she found herself being "recognized" by job listings under this heading. Hailed, as it were. Perhaps the picture I am drawing of disciplinary interpellation seems extreme. But I want to raise a crucial question that has no clear answer: where did this term come from? Is the Global Anglophone an epistemic category, a disciplinary classification, an alias of the "postcolonial," or subset of World Literature? Or is it a literary genre unto itself?

Who put the "Global" in Global Anglophone?

The Global Anglophone is indeed a very new concept, but it must mean something, since new academic positions titled as such have proliferated noticeably in the last five years. To give you a sense of the newness of Global Anglophone as a disciplinary category, let alone a parametric of hiring, here follow some figures on the appearance of the term in job postings of the past ten years. In 2008, zero advertised tenure-track Assistant Professorships of English appeared in the October Modern Language Association Job Information List with the words "Global Anglophone" in the title.2 In 2009, headings such as Assistant Professor of "Transnational Anglophone," "World Anglophone," and "Postcolonial/Anglophone" Literatures could be found, but none were listed as "Global Anglophone." Each of the years 2010, 2011, and 2012 featured a single position advertised with "Global Anglophone" in the title of the job. This figure increased to three in 2013, six in 2014, and nine in 2015. Four tenure-track Global Anglophone positions were advertised in the October 2016 MLA JIL, jumping up again to seven in 2017. Over the same time period, listings explicitly seeking candidates in Postcolonial Literature or Studies, either in the job title or primary research interests, were increasingly qualified by appending such categories "World Literature," "World Anglophone," "Multiethnic Literature," "Transnational Literature," "Indigenous Literatures," "Global Literature," and yes, "Global Anglophone Literature." In 2016, for instance, there were twelve jobs listed with "Postcolonial" somewhere in the title, compared to the nine jobs that sought an Assistant Professor of Global Anglophone Literature. Within a decade, this veritably unheard-of disciplinary subheading has transformed into something approximating ubiquity. Applicants whose research falls outside the standard bodies of British and U.S. literatures in English are nearly as likely to apply for jobs listed as Postcolonial as they are Global Anglophone. So, I return to this question again: What does the term Global Anglophone mean, and where does it come from?

The argument could be made that it does not mean all that much, besides evidencing the impossible task any given search committee faces in attempting sum up a position that is meant to satisfy various and sundry curricular needs, including those of diversifying course offerings. Or it may simply indicate that once a couple of institutions started listing jobs as Global Anglophone, others followed suit. By this somewhat cynical logic, literary study is as vulnerable to getting "memed" as any other cultural configuration, and our disciplinary taxonomies gain traction the same way everything does these days: virally. Is the Global Anglophone then some kind of deus-ex-machina, more a marketing term than one reflecting an earnest shift in scholarly discourse? In an earlier era, a marked change in job titles for non-western literary scholarship would signal that the term derives from a set of field-specific scholarly conversations and has thus necessitated a change in the way jobs are being categorized. But this does not seem to be the case. To wit (and anecdotally), I myself have read very little published scholarship that uses Global Anglophone as a term to mobilize theoretical, generic, or disciplinary conversations. The first time I attended a conference panel that employed the term was at the MLA in 2015, and virtually any conference presentation I have seen since on the Global Anglophone has firstly interrogated the impacts of using this term in present and future scholarship. During my time on the academic job market, I was asked in numerous interviews to provide the committee with a definition of Global Anglophone, indicating that despite widespread institutional desires to hire experts in this field, there is not even a nominal consensus as to what it might encompass.

I think it is fair to say that the term Global Anglophone entered into literary critical discourse foremost as a problematic substitute for established disciplinary terms like postcolonial and World Literatureboth of which are politically fraught in their own right and have inspired innumerable published and oral debates in the past thirty years. More empirically, I offer these facts: as of October 2018, WorldCat retrieves precisely one scholarly monograph with the words "Global Anglophone" in the title, published in 2015.3 The first article WorldCat retrieves with "Global Anglophone" in the title (besides an article version of the above monograph) was published in 2018.4 A ProQuest search in October 2018 shows that the first U.S. dissertation employing the term "Global Anglophone" in the title was filed in 2006.5 Between then and 2018, only seven dissertations appear on ProQuest with the term "Global Anglophone" located anywhere in the title or abstract, averaging less than one per year. Granted these searches are cursory, but the results are vivid enough to indicate that the embrace of Global Anglophone as standard disciplinary nomenclature does not come from scholarship.

Of course, the Global Anglophone is not yet fully formed as a category of study, and it remains to be seen whether such a new disciplinary term will have a lasting legacy. Yet, in a market that is tighter than ever before, we already see the effects upon the kind of research and publications early-career scholars produceindeed, feel compelled to producein the interest of securing employment. The first jump in jobs listed with the term "Global Anglophone" in the MLA JIL occurred in 2013, from one to three. We can see a clear (if incremental) increase in scholarly work employing the term after 2014. Thus, my unscientific conclusion is that the scholarship using "Global Anglophone" as an analytic category has been created almost entirely by the invisible hand of the academic job market. As someone who spent four years on that same market from 2014-18, I can attest that the logic of supply and demand under a condition of extreme scarcity determines the kinds of labor aspiring literary scholars perform, and indeed, what that labor producesi.e., our research and publications. Capitalism is doing exactly what it is meant to do. Ergo, we become Global Anglophonists in practice by sheer necessity.

The rapid rise of the Global Anglophone as a disciplinary category, one which has the potential to determine the direction of future scholarship on literature and art falling outside the traditional canon, should raise some large red flags. For those of us whose work has thus far been to probe into the hegemonic forces that perpetuate structural inequity and subalternitywhether that be patriarchy, classism, colonialism, Orientalism, institutional racism, neoliberalism, or any noxious intersection of these phenomenadubbing our field Global Anglophone can feel more than a little like capitulation. And yet, we might view this moment as one with enormous potential to determine the direction of this disciplinary category since for all intents and purposes, it is still inchoate and thus plastic. Rather than succumbing to what amounts to the neoliberal privileging of market forces over what postcolonialism has trained us to do, i.e., resist hegemony, I contend that our task as current and future scholars in this newly-manufactured field is to push against and potentially subvert the Global Anglophone and the means of its production.

It is not difficult to perceive, from the opposite side of the hiring process, why English Departments in universities and colleges would find "Global Anglophone" an attractive alternative to "postcolonial" or "World Literature." It evades the more politically thorny issues of translation or area studies training that a job in Comparative or World Literature might. That the new term specifies Anglophone literature has the convenient effect of removing the need the for non-English language training. It also brings the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Ireland back into the fold without automatically necessitating an anticolonial perspective. A case need not be made for the corpus of Commonwealth literature to be considered Global Anglophone the way calling it postcolonial might. Yet tacking on "Global" before "Anglophone" has the double advantage of making the job description sound inclusive and cutting edge. All institutions of higher education are looking for ways of making their curricula more "global" in scope, regardless of what employing that modifier might entail.

Recently, surgically precise field-specialization has given way to the need for breadth and coverage. For example, in 2007, just one university ran a search for an Assistant Professor in Global Literature, listing "20th/21st-century British and Anglophone" in the description rather than the title, "with expertise in postcolonial theory [and] postcolonial literature."6 Specialization in "Indian or South Asian literatures" is marked as desirable in this position, as well as "literatures of Africa" and "expertise in an indigenous African language." From this ad a detailed portrait emerges of a potential candidate trained in a specific scholarly method, historical period, and geographic region. Recent MLA advertisements that seek a Global Anglophonist tend to focus more upon lists of regions and hemispheres, projecting a notion of coverage that is unimaginably broad. In 2016, an exemplary ad from a research institution posted a job for an Assistant Professor in 20th and 21st-century Global Anglophone Literatures whose expertise could include "African literatures; Asian and/or Pacific literatures; Arab Anglophone literatures; global Indigenous literatures; global and comparative modernisms; race, ethnicity, and new media."7 This list covers the vast majority of the terrestrial and digital world. Or rather, to put it less judiciously, it covers the vast majority of the non-white world.

I return once more to my central question: What is the Global Anglophone? Who or what determines the limits of the field? Looking at the aforementioned 2016 job listing, we might conclude that the Global Anglophone is limitless and boundless with only one parameterthat being a preference for the study of "underrepresented" peoples and literatures. And this reveals what I believe to be the foundational problem of flying Global Anglophone as the new banner of our field of study, namely, its effect upon the way we as literary scholars are asked to approach the question of representation. An emphasis on "underrepresented" literatures stands as a proxy for the ubiquitous professional demand for hiring "underrepresented" (diverse) job candidates. A(n enormously vast) body of literature and what it represents aesthetically is conflated with the issue of broadening political representation by diversifying the demographic composition of a given institution's faculty. By calling our field "Global Anglophone," aesthetic and political representation are being collapsed into each other. At the risk of performing a postcolonialist's cliché, I turn to Gayatri Spivak's formulation of darstellen (aesthetic representation) and vertreten (political representation) in "Can the Subaltern Speak?" to illustrate my point.8 The danger of collapsing the two senses of the term is in presuming that to represent aesthetically (a portrait or depiction) does the same work as representing politically (a proxy or advocate). For Spivak the risk of collapsing the political into the aesthetic aspect of representation is that the subaltern becomes only aestheticizeda trope above all else, evacuated of political efficacy. I would like to suggest that that in the sudden ubiquity of Global Anglophone as a disciplinary category the inverse is happening. By this I mean that the aesthetic representation of virtually anything that could deemed "diverse literature" potentially functions as a proxy for diversifying the professoriate, i.e., transforming political representation in the academy.

The "Global Anglophone" and Representation

If the Global Anglophone is a term that will indeed continue to hold sway in literary studies, it is worthwhile to consider whether, rather than displacing discussions of postcolonial or World Literature, it names something categorically distinct. By no means do I advocate a wholesale embrace of a disciplinary neologism that appears entirely to have been borne top-down out of market forces, rather than bottom-up from the work of scholars in the field themselves. That said, I do believe there is room to consider that twenty-first century literature, in form and content, is developing in a manner that stretches beyond what the term "postcolonial" and even "World Literature" may be able to encompass as literary genres. This shift in nomenclature warrants a consideration of what a distinct aesthetic representation of the Global Anglophone might look like. My above discussion is predicated on the assumption that the contemporary production of literature does not itself demand a reworking of generic categorizations within literary studies. But we must now ask: is there a burgeoning corpus of literature exhibiting distinct characteristics from what we consider to be postcolonial and/or World Literature?

The ongoing debates on World Literature of the last two decades examine the question of linguistic and cultural translation in every direction possible, in stances that are both universalist and anti-universalist. There are the arguments that World Literature is made up of an eminently translatable, transhistorical corpus of texts (Damrosch),9 that peripheral literature must be circulated (and thereby translated) in metropolitan centers such as Paris to be deemed World Literature (Casanova),10 that the field of World Literature ignores that which is untranslatable (Apter),11 and that we must resist World Literature's neo-Orientalist perpetuation of Anglophonie qua hegemony by turning to vernacular literatures untranslated into English (Mufti).12 But the Global Anglophone eschews these debates by sidestepping the question of translation entirely. The Global Anglophone text is presumably always-already translated. Or perhaps it is now "born-translated," as Rebecca Walkowitz argues, published right out of the gate with global circulation and future translation in mind.13

Because much scholarly ink has been spilled in recent years on the contentious relationship between Postcolonial and World Literature, basic point of inquiry now is whether Global Anglophone Literature is somehow categorically different from World Literature as such. Is it a means of naming a generic shift in literature that is produced with the "globe" vs. the "world" as a projected audience? Is representing the world translated (or alternately untranslated) into English distinct from representing the globe in English (or as Anglophone)? Should we be aware of the way "globe", as opposed to "world," conjures ideas of globalization, free market capitalism, neoliberalism, and technocracy? It is no longer quite possible to speak of distinct and extractable national literary traditions that circulate amongst each other like a literary U.N. Does the modifier "globe" lend itself more easily than "world" to representations of contemporary international crises, both political and environmental? Perhaps the Global Anglophone allows us to begin forming a lexicon with which to "challenge...our conception of the literary in these global times, which...needs attending to if we wish to rescue the literary from a sociological and materialistic determinism," as Debjani Ganguly has recently argued.14 We may hazard to view the Global Anglophone as a rubric that allows us to think beyond the temporally and geographically bound political concerns of Postcolonial Literature. It may also provide us a means of thinking beyond the presumption of discrete, extractable literary traditions that seems to mark many discussions of World Literature.

A more fundamental question arises here: has something radically changed in what contemporary literature represents? Does it describe literature that aims to represent the globe? Certainly, many recently published novels would fit this bill. Works by authors such as Kamila Shamsie, Zia Haider Rahman, Hari Kunzru, Mohsin Hamid, and Tahmima Anam come to mind, whose texts are no less than global in scope, unbound to any specific national narrative, and preoccupied with our tumultuous political present. The breathless integration of current events such as the "War on Terror," the 2008 financial crash, the European "migrant crisis," and U.S./Mexico border politics in the narrative diegesis of these texts ties them to the extreme present. This recent body of literature moves away from the hallmark postcolonial concerns of decolonization and nation-formation, and sharply contrasts the celebration of cosmopolitan fluidity that characterizes exemplary texts of World Literature. We might conjecture that this is the distinguishing marker of the Global Anglophone text: a pervasive sense that the nation-state has failed, and that doom is nigh on the world's horizon.

The "Global Anglophone" may indeed turn out to be an academic flash in the pan, but by the same token, it may become as entrenched in scholarly discourse as "postcolonial" has. In the early 2000s, the latter was a field I was advised not to pursue when applying for graduate school because it was allegedly already "dead." If the Global Anglophone is indeed here to stay, I propose that we should deploy the term while remaining vigilant of the ways in which it reproduces the hegemony of English, attentive to the almost inevitable collapse of political and aesthetic representation, and fully aware of the market forces that have willed this field of study into being. It is no hyperbole to state that the world today appears to be on a political, environmental, and economic precipice. Warnings of civilizational collapse and ideations of the apocalypse circulate frequently and widely in our present moment. We who have been trained to research and teach the histories and legacies of hegemony and empire that contribute to our contemporary state of global peril have a unique role and responsibility in the institutions of higher education that employ us. To those of us who have been implicitly tasked with determining what this still-malleable disciplinary category can and should come to mean, I ask: Can we marshal the Global Anglophone into becoming a politically and intellectually vanguard mode of critical inquiry? In my view, we have no other option. The stakes could scarcely be higher.

Introducing the Series: Meditations on the "Global Anglophone" as Form and Method

The desire for rigorous interrogation of the term "Global Anglophone" is what has led me to put together the contributions that follow in this series in Contemporaries. I am interested in the reverberations and cascading effects of implementing and mobilizing the term "Global Anglophone" in literary scholarship. What does it mean to take what is essentially a market-produced designation seriously as a genre, a method, a job title, an MLA sub-discipline, a referendum on unresolved literary debatesthat is to say, what is the Global Anglophone doing to the enterprise of literary production and study? I asked five early-career scholars, Marina Bilbija (Wesleyan), Hadji Bakara (University of Michigan), Arthur Rose (Durham), Amanda Waugh Lagji (Pitzer), and Daniel Elam (Cornell) to consider what it means to think of the Global Anglophone as an aesthetic or generic category in addition to considering its impacts as newly-minted disciplinary category. The results have been a surprising and often provocative set of meditations approaching the issue from very different directions.

The following essays range from astute critiques of the ethical ramifications of adopting Global Anglophone as a disciplinary term (Bilbija and Elam), to explorations of the Global Anglophone as a generic departure unto itself (Rose and Lagji), to a sustained analysis of the language we have begun to use to theorize this new literary category and its political consequences (Bakara). This collection of essays demonstrates that the recent and seemingly unquestioning acceptance of Global Anglophone as a field of literary study has made an indelible mark on the way we conduct our scholarship and our pedagogy. And the political consequences are perhaps more dire than we might initially think when perusing the MLA Job List. The "very name of the 'Global Anglophone' communicates an insidious commonplace," warns Bilbija, "suggesting that there is such thing as an Anglophone world in the first place. We risk falling into this epistemological and ethical trap every time our course offerings and course descriptions off-handedly refer to the Global Anglophone as an existing formation in the world." And Elam reminds us that the study of English literature has always been a project of interpellation. "English literary pedagogy, at least since T.B. Macaulay's famous Minute on Indian Education in 1835, has never been about English literature. It has been about the production of English subjects.... [N]ow we say that the mission of teaching British literature is to produce 'critical thinkers' - but somehow those 'critical thinkers' seem to have same tastes, opinions, morals, and intellect of T.B. Macaulay." His insight invites us to ask what we might be endeavoring to salvage, were we to rethink the Global Anglophone as a disciplinary label.

Contrarily, Lagji and Rose offer readings of contemporary literature that attempt to put the Global Anglophone as a methodology into practice, specifically by dissecting the term into its component parts. Perhaps the "Global" in Global Anglophone does not necessarily index a desire to circulate through a broader world literary market, Lagji argues with regard to Bilal Tanweer's novel, The Scatter Here is Too Great. The text "is certainly 'Anglophone,' but what makes it 'Global,'" she contends, "is not only the way the novel circulates to a global audience, but the way it communicates a consciousness of time and space not limited to the inhabitants of Karachi or Pakistan, nor the time of postcolonial aftermath alone." And similar to Kwame Anthony Appiah's question in the late twentieth century regarding the intersection of the "post" in "postcolonial" and "postmodern,"15 Rose considers the resonance between the "global" in Global Anglophone and Global Health by examining limited universalism in Arundhati Roy's The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. His reading proposes something of an ethical injunction: "If Global Health research demonstrates how the indifferent environments of the novel are animated by health concerns, it is the reciprocal responsibility of the Global Anglophone to address the limited universalism of such concerns." Lagji's and Rose's contributions compel us to think about the economic, epistemological, and political baggage of the "Global" as we couple it to "Anglophone" in literary criticismthe freight it carries from the numerous other enterprises and phenomena that are now qualified as "Global."

Finally, Bakara urges us to be vigilant about the theoretical vocabulary we employ to analyze the changing times and tides of our globally "entangled" reality. He observes:

A current in literary studies today, and in the humanities at large, which repeatedly turns to the entanglement metaphor to theorize the world as an interconnected yet largely un-mappable whole. Figured in this way, the global contemporary is depicted as a totality so densely striated with the crossing and interweaving between economic center and periphery, humans and nature, subject and object, real and virtual, empire and post-colony, past and present, that the constitutive partitions of modernity no longer hold.

Bakara examines the political outcomes of deploying certain fraught metaphors our critical and theoretical terminologylike "entanglement"to analyze contemporary phenomena such as the rise of the Global Anglophone. By postulating a politics of entanglement, Bakara simultaneously advances the idea of an ethics of literary criticism. He does so through a rigorous study of the form of literary theoretical discourse. What becomes clear in Bakara's contribution is that the metaphors we use as critics have political consequences. This matters evermore urgently as we broaden our scope from the epoch of empire and its aftermath to that which we are now calling the global.

Yogita Goyal (UCLA) serves as a respondent to this series of essays as we weigh in on consequences of the Global Anglophone taking a central role in the theater of postcolonial, world, and now global literary inquiry. Her response offers a spirited defense of the postcolonial as a disciplinary term, reminding us of the treacherous historical process of establishing Postcolonial Studies as a politically exigent, requisite mode of scholarly inquiry. Goyal urges the newest generation of literary scholars to resist the prompt to produce scholarship that conforms to the standards of the academic job market. She emphasizes the dire necessity for the intellectual to maintain a stance of critique and skepticism, not least when a term like Global Anglophone seems to materialize out of nowhere. My hope is that the following cluster will prove to be a substantial contribution to what I see as a crucial conversation in terms of discipline and form. Most importantly, I do not want to leave the Global Anglophone uninterrogated, and thus incorporated into the fold of literary study without sustained rigorous inquiry. Let us agree that as a term, the "Global Anglophone" is a discursive interloper. This series invites a new set of voices (all with a great deal at stake) to engage in a robust debate that seriously considers the future of what we otherwise may have called Comparative, Postcolonial, World, Minor, Ethnic, or Underrepresented Literature. I will end by posing the central question that drives this series: What is the Global Anglophone, anyway?

Nasia Anam is an Assistant Professor of English and Global Anglophone Literature at University of Nevada, Reno. Her current book project centers on the figure of the Muslim migrant in Anglophone and Francophone literature from the postwar period to the present day. Her writing and reviews can be found in ASAP/Journal, Interventions, Verge: Studies in Global Asias, Post45 Contemporaries, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Aerogram.


  1. Ragini Srinivasan, "Introduction: South Asia from Postcolonial to World Anglophone," Interventions 20, no. 3 (2018): 309-316, 309.[]
  2. Modern Language Association of America, MLA Job Information List (October 2008). All subsequent citations from the MLA JIL are extracted the October 2007-2017 editions of the quarterly JIL. I am also including jobs listed as "Global Literature in English" effectively to be "Global Anglophone" listings.[]
  3. Omaar Hena, Global Anglophone Poetry: Literary Form and Social Critique in Walcott, Muldoon, de Kok, and Nagra (New York: Palgrave, 2015).[]
  4. Marina Bilbija, "Whose Global Anglophone? Race, Language, and Inter-imperiality in W. E. B. Du Bois's Dark Princess," Modern Fiction Studies 64, no. 3 (2018): 559-578.[]
  5. Kate Jean Gosselink, Terms of Refuge: Collectivity in Contemporary Global Anglophone Fiction, Diss., Rutgers University, 2006. []
  6. Modern Language Association of America, MLA Job Information List (October 2007).[]
  7. Modern Language Association of America, MLA Job Information List (October 2016).[]
  8. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, "Can the Subaltern Speak?," Can the Subaltern Speak? (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 21-78.[]
  9. David Damrosch, What is World Literature? (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003).[]
  10. Pascal Casanova, The World Republic of Letters, trans. M.B. DeBevoise, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007).[]
  11. Emily Apter, Against World Literature (New York: Verso, 2013). []
  12. Aamir Mufti, Forget English! (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2016).[]
  13. Rebecca Walkowitz, Born Translated (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017).[]
  14. Debjani Ganguly, This Thing Called the World (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016), 35.[]
  15. Kwame Anthony Appiah, "Is the Post in Postmodernism the Post in Postcolonial?" Critical Inquiry  17, no. 2 (Winter 1991): 336-357.[]