I’m a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow based at the University of St Andrews working on a project entitled ‘Constructing a Geopolitics of Nationhood: Belgium’s Scientific and Cultural Colonial Project (1830-1958)’, which investigates the role of (natural/’life’) sciences and museums for the Belgian colonial project in Sub-Saharan Africa.

I am also finalising my first monograph Imagining Brussels: Memory and Diaspora in Francophone Fiction, which analyses the Belgian capital’s multifaceted postcolonial condition via its representations in novels by writers with roots in Morocco, the Congo-DRC, and Haiti and is under contract with Liverpool University Press (2021).

I am the Editor of the Bulletin for Francophone Postcolonial Studies (the bi-annual journal of the Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies) and a Volunteer Translator at the Wiener Holocaust Library in London (since 2015). I’m also a member of the Belgian Network for Medical History.

At St Andrews, I’m also the Post-doc/ECR representative of the School’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee and freshly appointed to the steering committee of the c19c Cross Cultural Circa Nineteenth Century Research Centre.

I’ve recently won an EDI Funding Award from St Andrews’ School of Modern Languages and will be working with a postgraduate assistant to develop resources and a database for best practices in alternative assessment methods in the Humanities and will post any updates here soon.

Any questions, please feel free to get in touch via sa245(at)st-andrews.ac.uk


PhD, French – University of Edinburgh (2013-2017), École Normale Supérieure Paris (2014-2015)

MA, French Philology, American Studies, English Literature – Saarland University (2007-2012), University of York (2010-2011)


If you have any trouble accessing any of the publications, please feel free to contact me.

Forthcoming work

Monograph: Imagining Brussels: Memory and Diaspora in Francophone Fiction (under contract with Liverpool University Press, 2021).

Special issue: with Sam Goodman, ‘Ailing Empires: Medicine, Science, and Imperialism’, special issue of Social History of Medicine (accepted and forthcoming 2022).

Articles: with Sam Goodman, ‘Introduction: Ailing Empires – Medicine, Science, and Imperialism’, special issue of Social History of Medicine (accepted and forthcoming 2022).

‘From Cairo to Katanga: (Sephardi) Jewish Identity and Photography in the Belgian Congo’, in ‘Jewish in/and Colonial Spaces’, special issue of Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, ed. by Yair Wallach. (accepted and forthcoming 2022).

Book chapter: ‘The Problem with French and the World: Imagining the Province and the Global in Francophone African Fiction’, in African Literature as World Literature, ed. by Madhu Krishnan and Alexander Fyfe (under contract with Bloomsbury, 2022)

Peer-reviewed journal articles

• ‘Killer Stories: “Globalizing” the Grotesque in Alain Mabanckou’s African Psycho and Leïla Slimani’s Chanson douce‘, Irish Journal of French Studies 20 (2020): pp. 143-172. Available here.

• with Joseph Ford, ‘Introduction: Revisiting the Grotesque in Francophone African Literature’, Irish Journal of French Studies 20 (2020): pp. 1-13. Available here.

• ‘Memory in Crisis: Commemoration, Visual Cultures, and (Mis)representation in Postcolonial Belgium’, in ’The Global Crisis in Memory: Populism, Decolonisation and How We Remember in the Twenty-First Century’ special collection, ed. by Eva Spišiaková, Charles Forsdick, and James Mark, Modern Languages Open, 1 (2020). Available here (open access).

• ‘Narrating the (Post-)Nation? Aspects of the Local and the Global in Francophone Congolese Writing’, Research in African Literatures 49.1 (2018), pp. 22–41. Available here.

• ‘Les géographies transculturelles et postcoloniales: Bruxelles dans les écritures de Mina Oualdlhadj et de Pie Tshibanda’, Textyles: Revue des lettres belges de langue française 47 (2015), pp. 159–174. Available here (open access).

• with David Cummings ‘Introduction: Memory/Amnesia and (Post)Colonialism’, Bulletin of Francophone Postcolonial Studies 6.2 (2015), pp. 6–9. Available here (open access).

Special issues (co-edited)

Irish Journal of French Studies, special issue on ‘Revisiting the Grotesque in African Francophone Literatures’, with Joseph Ford (2020). Available here.

Bulletin of Francophone Postcolonial Studies 6.2 (2015), with Kate Marsh and David Cummings. Available here (open access).

Book chapters

• ‘From Mobutu to Molenbeek: Belgium and Postcolonialism’, in Postcolonial Europe: Comparative Reflections after the Empires, ed. by Lars Jensen, Julia Suárez-Krabbe, Christian Groes-Green and Zoran Lee Pecic (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017), pp. 163–176. Available here (open access). 

• ‘De Mobutu à Matonge: la littérature contemporaine de la diaspora congolaise’, in Créer en postcolonie. Voix et dissidences belgo-congolaises 2010-2015, ed. by Sarah Demart and Gia Abrassart (Brussels: Africalia, 2016), pp. 225–232. Link to publisher’s website.

Book reviews

• Review of Filippo Zanghi, Zone indécise: Périphéries urbaines et voyage de proximité dans la littérature contemporaine (Villeneuve d’Ascq: PU du Septentrion, 2014), French Studies, 69.4 (2015), p. 571. Available here (open access). 

• Review of János Riesz, Südlich der Sahara: Afrikanische Literatur in französischer Sprache (Tübingen: Stauffenburg Verlag, 2013), Bulletin of Francophone Postcolonial Studies 6.1 (2015), pp. 20-21. Available here (open access). 

Other publications

• ‘The Problem with the Prophet: Review of Alain Mabanckou’s Black Moses’, Africa in Words Online Blog (2018). Available here.

• ‘(Peer-)Teaching Postcolonial Studies: Workshop at the University of Edinburgh’, Northern Postcolonial Network Online Blog (2016). Available here.



09/2019-09/2022: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of St Andrews, ‘Constructing a Geopolitics of Nationhood: Belgium’s Scientific and Cultural Colonial Project (1830-1958)’

09/2018-08/2019: Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, ‘Of Medics and Missionaries: Translation, Science, and Empire in 20th- and 21st-Century Francophone Writing’


Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies

Belgian Network for Medical History

African Studies Association

Modern Languages Association

Sarah Arens

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