Picture of Jay Rajiva

Jay Rajiva B.A. (Concordia), M.A. (Concordia), Ph.D. (Toronto)

Assistant Professor of Decolonizing, Transnational, and Diasporic Literatures

Faculty Member in English

Arts 315

Research Area(s)

  • Postcolonial Literature
  • Transnational and Diasporic Literatures
  • Trauma Theory
  • Caribbean Literatures
  • African Literatures

About me

Working at the disciplinary intersection between postcolonial literature and trauma theory, I am a comparative scholar with a strong regional focus in Caribbean, pan-African, and South Asian fiction. My second book, Toward an Animist Reading of Postcolonial Trauma Literature (Routledge 2020), uses the conceptual framework of animism, the belief in the spiritual qualities of nonhuman matter, to analyze representations of trauma in postcolonial fiction from Nigeria and India. I am also the author of Postcolonial Parabola: Literature, Tactility, and the Ethics of Representing Trauma (Bloomsbury 2017), which analyzes literature of partition and civil war on the Indian subcontinent alongside apartheid and post-apartheid South African fiction. My scholarship has appeared in journals such as Studies in the Novel, Twentieth-Century Literature, ARIEL, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, and Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities.



2020 Toward an Animist Reading of Postcolonial Trauma Literature (New York: Routledge).

2017 Postcolonial Parabola: Literature, Tactility, and the Ethics of Representing Trauma (New York: Bloomsbury).

Refereed Journal Articles

2022 “Caring for Everything Inside: Migrant Trauma and Danticat’s Narrative Bigidi.” Humanities 11.6: 1-11. Special Issue: “Trauma, Ethics, and Illness in Contemporary Literature and Culture” (eds. Shipra Tholia, Amar Singh, and Aimee Pozorski).

2020 “Never Let Me Finish: Ishiguro’s Interruptions.” Studies in the Novel 52.1: 75-93.

2019 “‘My second life, so far away from my first’: Cultural Capital and the Postcolonial Outsider in The Enigma of Arrival.” ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature 50.2-3: 33-57.

2019 “The Answer Is Paracritical: Caribbean Literature and The Limits of Critique.” Humanities 8.126: 1-12.

2018 “Trauma’s Internal Transformation: Anticipating Unconsciousness in The Master of Petersburg.” Journal of the African Literature Association 11.3: 313-24.

2017 “Secrecy, Sacrifice, and God on the Island: Christianity and Colonialism in Coetzee’s Foe and Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.” Twentieth-Century Literature 63.1: 1-21.

2016 “‘The instant of waking from the nightmare’: Emergence Theory and Postcolonial Experience in Season of Migration to the North.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing 52.6: 687-99. 

2013 “The Unbearable Burden of Levinasian Ethics.” Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 18.4: 135-47.

2013 “The Seduction of Narration in Mark Behr's The Smell of Apples.” Research in African Literatures 44.4: 82-98.

Refereed Book Chapters

2023 “Animist Forms of Atonement and Healing in Edwidge Danticat’s The Dew Breaker.” Moral Injury and the Humanities: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Eds. Andrew I. Cohen and Kathryn McClymond. New York: Routledge. 

2021 ‘How Very Godfather Part II of you’: Trauma and Intertextual Comparison in A Brief History of Seven Killings.” Trauma and Literature in an Age of Globalization. Eds. Jennifer Ballengee and David Kelman. New York: Routledge. 129-42.

2016 “‘Someone called India’: Urban Space and the Tribal Subject in Mahasweta Devi’s ‘Douloti the Bountiful.’” Postcolonial Urban Outcasts: City Margins in South Asian Literature. Eds. Madhurima Chakraborty and Umme Al-Wazedi. New York: Routledge. 56-71.

Book Reviews

2018 “Insurgent Testimonies: Witnessing Colonial Trauma in Modern and Anglophone Literature. By Nicole M. Rizzuto, Fordham UP, 2015, 272 pp.” Literary Research/Recherche Littéraire 34 (Summer 2018): 209-12.

2015 “J.M. Coetzee and the Limits of Cosmopolitanism By Katherine Hallemeier Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, 212 pp.” Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry 2.01: 145-47.


African Literatures Caribbean Literatures Postcolonial Literature Transnational and Diasporic Literatures Trauma Theory

A central concern in my scholarship is the relationship between the act of reading and the ethics of representing trauma in postcolonial literature — specifically, Caribbean, pan-African, and South Asian fiction. What is the traditional experience of reading a literary account of trauma? How does postcolonial trauma literature demand a different response? And how does this response compel ethical growth in the reader? These questions are necessarily intertwined with postcolonial history, since the very conditions from which postcolonial writers have emerged—the trauma of colonialism, the struggle to narrate postcolonial experience—involve breaking from received cultural norms and complicating the practice of reading literature. My research, therefore, aims to better understand the unique ways in which postcolonial literature structures traumatic representation at the levels of narration, metaphor, and aesthetics.

Education & Training

B.A. (Concordia), M.A. (Concordia), Ph.D. (Toronto)