The Circle for Asian American Literary Studies (CAALS) is a member society of the American Literature Association (ALA) devoted to the research and teaching of Asian American literature founded in 1995.

All changes to these bylaws must be approved unanimously by the CAALS officers and ideally should be discussed with the membership at the annual business meeting.


Membership is open. Participants in any CAALS-organized panels or activities must be current dues-paying members.

Annual membership dues are $10 for faculty and $5 for students, independent scholars, and community members. Changes to these amounts must be approved by a majority vote of the members at the annual business meeting.

Annual Business Meeting

An annual meeting of the membership shall take place at the annual ALA conference, usually scheduled at the end of May, over Memorial Day weekend, and alternating between Boston, MA, and San Francisco, CA. At the annual business meeting, the members shall elect officers, receive reports on CAALS activities for the past year, and determine the direction of CAALS for the coming year.


The officers of CAALS shall be two co-chairs. All officers must be active members of CAALS.


The co-chairs will serve two-year terms, which may be renewed. One co-chair is elected annually by the membership in alternating years for each chair.

The co-chairs shall preside at all meetings of the membership and shall have the following duties:

  1. They shall serve as primary contacts and liaisons with the ALA administration, especially in negotiating the number of CAALS panels and roundtables at the ALA conference.
  2. They shall organize at least one panel or roundtable.
  3. They shall approve and disseminate all CAALS Calls for Papers (CFPs) for ALA and other conferences.
  4. They shall apprise CAALS panel/roundtable organizers and the membership of deadlines ahead of time.
  5. They shall compile the full list of panels and roundtables from the organizers and submit it to the ALA.
  6. They shall disseminate and promote the full schedules of CAALS events at the ALA and other conference.
  7. They shall administer the CAALS Essay Prize and/or oversee the creation and administration of a Prize Committee.
  8. They shall organize an annual CAALS dinner at the ALA conference.
  9. They shall attend all CAALS panels, roundtables, and the business meeting at the ALA conference.
  10. They shall set the agenda for the annual business meeting.
  11. They shall record and disseminate minutes for the annual business meeting.
  12. They shall oversee CAALS finances and disbursement of funds.
  13. They shall oversee and update the CAALS website (, the CAALS Facebook group (, the CAALS Google group (!forum/caals), and other social media accounts.


CAALS funds shall be disbursed for the CAALS Essay Prize (e.g., a $20 Amazon gift card) and dinner for the prize winner. Funds may also be disbursed, for example, for reimbursement of local travel expenses and a small honorarium or gift for authors/artists who read at a CAALS-organized event; business meeting-related expenses; and CAALS-organized networking events at the ALA and other conferences.

However, CAALS funds may not be used to subsidize travel or personal costs for any member or officer of CAALS. Disbursements must be approved by both co-chairs.

Calls for Papers (CFPs)

All CAALS Calls for Papers for ALA must be approved by the co-chairs and ideally should be discussed with the membership at the annual business meeting. CFPs for CAALS-organized panels and roundtables at other conferences or events must also be approved by the co-chairs. 

CFP formats are at the reasonable discretion of the organizer but should include a link to the CAALS website, a reminder that all presenters must become dues-paying members of CAALS, and an announcement of the CAALS Essay Prize. Organizers are responsible for providing the co-chairs with the CFPs and the finalized panels/roundtables in a timely fashion for posting on the website. They must also remind their presenters when selected and before the conference that they must become dues-paying members of CAALS in order to present.

CAALS Essay Prize

The CAALS Essay Prize was established in 2013 and shall be an annual book prize for the best paper on Asian American literature written by a graduate student (or, should the occasion arise, an undergraduate student) and presented at any ALA panel or a CAALS-organized panel at another conference during that academic year. In other words, all papers presented by students at the ALA conference are eligible, but papers from other conferences must be from a CAALS-organized panel. Papers must be submitted electronically two weeks before the ALA conference (or any other reasonable deadline decided on and announced by the co-chairs or the prize committee) in order to be eligible. The winner will be notified before or at the ALA conference and shall be the guest of honor at the annual CAALS dinner at the ALA conference. If for any reason the winner is not decided by the time of the ALA conference, they will be notified by email and invited to be honored the following year.

Papers will be read and evaluated by a prize committee consisting of at least two CAALS officers and/or members who hold positions at any postdoctoral level. Committee members must recuse themselves from evaluating papers by their own advisees or students from their own institutions.

CAALS Commitment to Anti-Harassment

CAALS is committed to fostering safe and supportive spaces for our members, partners, and event attendees. We believe that everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, class, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, appearance, dis/ability, body shape and size, and health condition, has the right to fair and equitable participation in CAALS-sponsored activities without fear, intimidation, or belittlement. We have a zero-tolerance policy for harassment, hostility, and discrimination by members and participants in any form.

With these commitments in mind, CAALS strives to be a space for anti-harassment. We see anti-harassment to be the active undoing of harassment and the ideological, institutional, and cultural formations that perpetuate harassment. We acknowledge that, as an active process, anti-harassment is an ongoing undertaking that requires the support and participation of the greater CAALS community. Therefore, we intend for this document to be a living archive that may continue to grow and develop alongside the changing views, convictions, and needs of CAALS and its community.

In what follows, we detail CAALS’ current interpretations of harassment and procedures for addressing harassment as of Summer 2023. We recognize that no singular definition can fully encapsulate the spectrum of meanings and experiences surrounding harassment, and that no singular procedure policy for addressing harassment can entirely undo its existence. Moreover, we realize that harassment is a highly individuated experience that can take different shapes, feelings, and sensations beyond the scope of a singular incident. Nevertheless, we hope that, with this living document, we can begin the process of acknowledging, confronting, and undoing harassment to the best of our abilities as a volunteer, peer-run organization.

Statement on Harassment

CAALS condemns harassment of any kind and prohibits all forms of harassment in all CAALS-sponsored spaces, whether in-person or virtual. While certainly a capacious term, we interpret harassment to mean unwelcome advances, actions, behaviors, practices, words, requests, and/or beliefs that, whether interpersonally or institutionally, violate, degrade, intimidate, or offend a person’s dignity, personal space, or identity based on race, ethnicity, national origin, class, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, appearance, dis/ability, body shape and size, and/or health condition that would otherwise affect or interfere with an individual’s participation in the organization, and/or creates a hostile or unaccommodating professional environment. Harassment need not have malicious intent.

In laying out these ideas around harassment, CAALS does not mean to suggest that this is an exhaustive description of what constitutes harassment. We know that harassment takes many forms and has lasting consequences that might not take material form at the time of an incident. As such, we leave open space for future chairs, board members, and the general membership to update, expand, and/or revise the above to better meet the needs of CAALS and its community.

Procedures for Combating Harassment

CAALS is committed to supporting victims of harassment, while condemning perpetrators of harassment. If an individual engages in behavior conducive to harassment, the CAALS co-chairs and Advisory Board may take immediate action against the offender. Such immediate actions include, but are not limited to, investigating the actions and behaviors of the offender, warning the offender, suspending the offender, and/or expelling the offender from a conference, a CAALS-sponsored event, and/or the CAALS organization with no refund, and forfeiture of committee and board roles. If you feel that you are experiencing or have experienced harassment within the context of CAALS, or that someone else is being or has been harassed, or that you have any other concerns regarding harassment, please feel free to contact the CAALS’ co-chair(s) by any means with which you are comfortable. Though not necessarily trained professionals in the field of harassment policy, the CAALS co-chair(s) strive, to the best of their abilities, to create a non-judgmental space for listening and support.

We recognize that not every incident of harassment is the same, which means that there can be no perfect standard by which to combat harassment, but we will be sure to hear and respect the needs of victims while working to construct an individual plan of action that meets the victim’s individual needs and comfort level(s). Such plan(s) of action can include, but are not limited to, reporting the incident(s) to local law enforcement, providing an escort(s) to and from conference events or meeting spaces, documenting a report of the incident to be kept private in the CAALS archive, logging a complaint against the perpetrator to be kept private in the CAALS archive, investigating the incident, interviewing the perpetrator, suspending or expelling the perpetrator from the CAALS event at hand, suspending or expelling the perpetrator from future CAALS events, suspending or removing the perpetrator’s CAALS membership, and/or revising the CAALS bylaws, among other possibilities. All such actions and incident inquiries will be conducted with full confidentiality, unless otherwise stipulated by the wishes of the victim. At CAALS, we strive to create a safe space for all participants for all events.

Should anyone knowingly make a false accusation(s) of harassment or knowingly provide false information during the course of an investigation, that person(s) may be liable for discipline. A complaint made in good faith, even if found to be unsubstantiated, will not be considered a false accusation. We do our best at CAALS both to believe victims and to undo the mechanisms that would otherwise question the integrity of victims.

We, at CAALS, also acknowledge that harassment takes institutional form. For this reason, we will continue to evaluate our own organization in order to put sustainable mechanisms in place for combating harassment while implementing anti-harassment. We are thus open to fielding constructive questions, concerns, and inquiries from the CAALS community to cultivate a more just and equitable CAALS organization. That said, should one of CAALS’ partners, such as a conference vendor or site host, perpetuate harassment, please contact the CAALS co-chair(s) so that they are aware of the issue and can take action to address it.

Resources for Anti-Harassment

CAALS’s anti-harassment commitments are informed by and indebted to the works of other national organizations. We see ourselves as participating in a larger community committed to anti-harassment. Therefore, we would like to acknowledge organizations like the National Women’s Studies Association, Americans for the Arts, American Association for the Advancement of the Sciences, and the Special Libraries Association. We list these external organizations here as both a citational practice and a resource for any future needs. To be sure, we do not mean to suggest that these external resources or this policy document are exhaustive. Instead, we believe that our commitments to and resources for fostering anti-harassment are part of an ever-changing process of learning, growth, and support.