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Jay Rajiva

Assistant Professor

Ph.D., University of Toronto


Postcolonial Literature, Global Anglophone Literature, Trauma Theory


Jay Rajiva works at the disciplinary intersection between postcolonial studies, trauma theory, and phenomenology, focusing on South Asian, African, and Caribbean literature. His book, titled Postcolonial Parabola: Literature, Tactility, and the Ethics of Representing Trauma (Bloomsbury, forthcoming), analyzes literature of partition and civil war on the Indian subcontinent alongside apartheid and post-apartheid South African fiction. Broadly speaking, the book interrogates two aspects of the representation of trauma. First, how do we experience the act of reading a literary account of collective trauma? Second, what makes postcolonial literature uniquely suited to do justice to the representation of collective trauma? The unifying concept throughout the book is postcolonial trauma as vexed contact: a tactile encounter that touches without touching, undoing our expectation of what it means to encounter trauma in literary form.

Dr. Rajiva teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on postcolonial literature, world literature, literary theory, and contemporary British fiction. At all levels, his classrooms encourage rigorous but creative engagement with literature as a mode of representing the singularity of lived experience.



  • Postcolonial Parabola: Literature, Tactility, and the Ethics of Representing Trauma. Bloomsbury Press (forthcoming).
  • “‘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. Routledge Research in Postcolonial Literatures Series (forthcoming).
  • “Secrecy, Sacrifice, and God on the Island: The Problem of Christianity in Coetzee’s Foe and Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.” Twentieth-Century Literature (forthcoming).
  • “‘The instant of waking from the nightmare’: Emergence Theory and Postcolonial Experience in Season of Migration to the North.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing (forthcoming).
  • “J.M. Coetzee and the Limits of Cosmopolitanism.” Book Review. Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry 2:01 (2015).
  • “The Unbearable Burden of Levinasian Ethics.” Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 18.4 (2013): 135-48. Link
  • “The Seduction of Narration in Mark Behr’s The Smell of Apples.” Research in African Literatures 44.4 (2013): 82-98.