Dr. Nalini Iyer Receives Prestigious Award

Written by Karen L. Bystrom
March 15, 2023

Nalini Iyer, PhD, Professor, Department of English, received the Distinguished Service Award from the South Asian Literary Association, an allied organization of the MLA.

The organization’s President Dr. Cynthia Leenerts said when conferring the award, “Nalini has been a continuous member of SALA since 2012. She served as our Secretary from 2013-17 and as Vice President from 2017-19. In 2019, she joined South Asian Review as our first woman Editor, revitalizing and refreshing this journal in ways long needed, including bringing together a strong team of Associate Editors, streamlining processes to make the turnaround time for decisions quick, and increasing submissions significantly, as well as building circulation via Taylor & Francis, with which she works closely. She created SAR's Provocations segment, bringing in important scholarly voices, and she developed several exciting special issues (featuring writing from Kashmir, Writing South Asia in disaster time, literature from the Northeast, South Asian digital humanities, ecofeminism, and more—and some of these special issues have become books through the Special Issue into Books program from Taylor & Francis). She expanded submissions focusing on marginalized writers and writing within South Asia, including non-Anglophone writers, Dalit writers, and theatre and performance studies.

"When the pandemic hit, Nalini kept working with her team: getting articles in and working with peer reviewers. Importantly, she got the journal SCOPUS-indexed, which was important for our non-US contributors to have their submissions count, which brought in more submissions from South Asia based scholars. At MLA, of which she has been a member since 1986, Nalini currently co-chairs the Committee for the Literatures of People of Color from the United States and Canada. She is also on the Executive Committee for the MLA Forum South Asian and South Asian Diasporic and is actively working to strengthen MLA's relationship with SALA . Also in connection with MLA, she is co-editing the Teaching Anglophone South Asian Diasporic Lit book with Pallavi Rastogi (forthcoming 2023/24), which had its genesis at the SALA 2020 conference.

"Nalini is a superb collaborator, a leader as well as a valued worker who pitches in along with her many teams, supporting everyone and giving them credit for their contributions. She works seemingly tirelessly. In my time as President, I have always relied on her for her sharp insights, for her common sense grounded in long experience, and for her support of our mission at SALA, including to our allied association of MLA. Her deep respect for her colleagues on the Executive Committee and among SALA's officers, and of her editorial team in SAR, along with her continuing dedication to SALA and to South Asian studies in general make it a pleasure and an honor to confer this award.”