Professor Emerita Sneja Gunew, 1946-2024

The Department of English Language & Literatures is saddened by the passing of Professor Emerita Dr. Sneja Gunew (UBC EL&L; UBC GRSJ). Dr. Gunew was a prominent voice in multiculturalism, post-colonialism, and feminist critical theory. She is remembered for her kind guidance, quiet wit, and exemplary mentorship to graduate students.

While at UBC, Dr. Gunew was the Director of the Centre for Research in Women’s and Gender Studies (2002-7). She was the North American editor of Feminist Theory (Sage), from 2006 to 2010. She was also the Associate Principal of the UBC College for Interdisciplinary Studies from 2008 to 2011.

Gunew edited and co-edited four anthologies of Australian women’s and multicultural writings. These include Feminist Knowledge: Critique and Construct and A Reader in Feminist Knowledge (Routledge 1990-91). In Australia, she compiled, with others, A Bibliography of Australian Multicultural Writers and co-edited Striking Chords: Multicultural Literary Interpretations (1992), the first collection of critical essays to deal with ethnic minority writings in the Australian context. Continuing her focus on cultural difference, Gunew edited, with Anna Yeatman, Feminism and the Politics of Difference (1993) and, with Fazal Rizvi, Arts for a Multicultural Australia: Issues and Strategies (1994). Gunew set up the first library collection of ethnic minority writings in Australia.

Her books include Framing Marginality: Multicultural Literary Studies (1994) and Haunted Nations: The Colonial Dimensions of Multiculturalisms (Routledge 2004). Based in Canada since 1993, her later work was on comparative multiculturalisms, and diasporic literatures and their intersections with national and global cultural formations. Her most recent book was titled Post-Multicultural Writers as Neo-Cosmopolitan Mediators (Anthem 2017).

“For decades now, Sneja has been a warmly generous supporter of all of us who work on postcolonial, diasporic, and transcultural studies. She was a strategic key supporter when I proposed the first Asian North American comparative courses to the department in the 1990s and encouraged my work by creating presentation spaces at her many conferences,” writes Dr. Glenn Deer. “Sneja’s influence has been profound and her elegant originality will be missed.”

“Sneja was my first mentor at UBC, not only a next door office neighbour. She was indeed elegant in mind and body, and a serious and formidable agonist in the intellectual contests we’ve all given a good part of our energies to wage,” shares Dr. Judith Paltin. “On a lighter note, Sneja generously shared with me in my first year the most valuable asset a modernist scholar could hope for: the email of a person willing to rent their flat within walking distance of the British Library. I’m so grateful for her kind and wise guidance.”