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Subha XavierAssociate ProfessorFrench


Ph.D. in French Literature, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Subha Xavier, Associate Professor (Ph.D. in French Literature, University of Wisconsin-Madison) Migration and Diaspora Studies, Francophone African, Canadian and Caribbean Literature and Film, Postcolonial and Literary Theory. Core faculty at the Institute of African Studies and the Global and Postcolonial Studies Program. Associated faculty in Film and Media Studies.

Professor Xavier’s first book, The Migrant Text: Making and Marketing a Global French Literature (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2016) brings together a corpus of recent novels by immigrants to France and Quebec, suggesting that these diverse works extend beyond familiar labels such as francophone and postcolonial to forge a new mode of writing that deserves recognition on its own terms. Xavier shows how both external and internal factors shape migrant production in contemporary French literature, arguing that these texts should be situated precisely at the intersection of the financial mandates of literary production and the textual strategies the writer deploys to resist—but also profit from—these conditions.  Xavier proposes a new framework for studying immigrant writing as a strategic mode of materialist practice that combines — but does not defer to — postcolonial theory, racial politics and nationalist discourses. 

Her second monograph, now nearing completion is entitled Transcultural Fantasies: China, France and the History of Sino-French Literary Exchange. Surveying over a century of cultural relations between China and France, the book disentangles the complexities of translation and mis-translation that occur as cultural products travel across languages, cultures and thought traditions. Drawing on a diverse archive of comparative French and Chinese thought — from 19th century race theory to world politics and modernist philosophy — Transcultural Fantasies illuminates the fraught dynamics of a recent body of literary and film texts by Chinese authors in France, who cull a fragile beauty from the onerous weight of the past.

Subha Xavier is also working on a third project entitled Wretched of the Sea: Migrant Boat Narratives that considers refugee crossings from an international perspective, reexamining the legacy of slave and war narratives in the context of present-day mass migrations and climate change.

Recent Publications

Xavier, S. (2021) Reading Congolese Literature for Human Rights. Research in African Literatures 52.4 (forthcoming Winter 2021)

Xavier, S. (2021) African Boat Narratives, Disposable Bodies, and the New Native Survivor. Cambridge Companion to Slavery in Global Literatures, eds. Laura T. Murphy and Sheffield Hallam, Cambridge University Press.

Xavier, S. (2021) Wretched of the Sea: Boat Narratives and Stories of Displacement. Contemporary Fiction in French, eds. Anna-Louise Milne and Russell Williams, Cambridge University Press, pp. 184-98.

Xavier, S., & Michael, C. (2021). Embodying the Tamil diaspora: Audiard, Shobasakthi and the transnational languages of Dheepan. Transnational Screens, 1-18.

Xavier, S. (2020). À la lisière de la langue. Shan Sa et l’art pictural sino-français. Penser le roman francophone contemporain, eds. Gauvin, Lise, Romuald Fonkoua, and Florian Alix, Les Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 2020, pp. 68-76.



Migrant Text