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Dr Sarah Arens

Dr Sarah Arens

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow

Researcher profile

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In September 2019, I re-joined the School of Modern Languages as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow (2019-2022), following a research fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh (2018-2019), and a number of research and/or teaching positions at the Universities of Glasgow, St Andrews, Bristol, Edinburgh, and Yale University. I completed my PhD in French at Edinburgh in 2017. I am also currently the Post-doc/ECR representative for the School's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee.


I've taught a wide range of French and Francophone, as well as Comparative literature, film, French language, and critical theory at St Andrews, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. I am not teaching this academic year, but I encourage students and postgraduates in Modern Languages to get in touch if they want to discuss projects in my research areas.

Research areas

My research considers fictional, historiographical, and scientific writing, as well as visual culture produced during and in the aftermath of the Belgian colonial project. Focusing on questions of memory, mobility, and space, my first monograph, Imagining Brussels: Memory and Diaspora in Francophone Fiction (under contract with Liverpool University Press), offers a critical investigation of the Belgian capital's representation in Francophone postcolonial literature. It challenges conventional models of Postcolonial Studies that do not sufficiently engage with the existence of Belgium as an imperial power in Africa alongside France and it takes seriously the long-term effects this has had on literature produced in the wake of colonialism and post-war labour migration. My broader research interests include:

? (Fictional and non-fictional representations of) the First World War in Sub-Saharan Africa

? Nationalism and statehood 

? World literature and translation

? African critical theory and intellectual history

? Critical Animal Studies, especially theories of animal labour and animal liberation


For my fellowship project, 'Constructing a Geopolitics of Nationhood: Belgium's Scientific and Cultural Colonial Project (1830-1858)', I am working on my second monograph, which investigates the role of natural sciences and their exhibition through museums and world fairs as a pathway to better understanding the ideologies that fuelled Belgian colonialism and the resistance against it. 

I am also a volunteer translator for the Wiener Holocaust Library in London, the editor of the Bulletin of Francophone Postcolonial Studies, the bi-annual journal of the Society of Francophone Postcolonial Studies, and a member of the newly formed Early Career Academic Special Interest Group of the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML).


Selected publications


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