Jesse Arseneault, PhD
My current research is situated in the field of African Cultural Studies, and deals with representations of the human/animal dichotomy in African cultural texts. Tentatively titled, Toward an African Animal Studies: On the Limits of Concern in Contemporary African Politics, my manuscript in progress explores how concern for Africa manifests globally in relation to concepts of animality, inhumanity, and nonhumanity. It also explores the position of African animals in conservationist and environmentalist discourses. Moving beyond postcolonial analyses that have condemned the animalization of humans in African contexts, I examine the ways that various African texts recuperate notions of animality. I read these texts as a movement toward both resisting the dehumanization of Africans, but in such a way that stresses the shared precarity of human and nonhuman lives on the continent. As such, my work attempts to resist anthropocentric logics that equate animality (and its various associations with Africanness) with subhumanity. My work borrows from the fields of critical animal studies, posthumanism, queer theory, and critical race theory to work toward a multivalent understanding of what the animal means within and in relation to “Africa” as a discursive construct.
My additional work has dealt with a range of subjects including postcolonial theory, animal studies, queer theory, critical race studies, and violence. My recent publications have appeared in Critical Arts, English Studies in Canada (ESC), Safundi, and Postcolonial Text.
PhD, English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University, Hamilton ON
MA, English Literature, McMaster University, Hamilton ON
Bachelor of Arts (Honours), English Language and Literature, Brock University, St. Catharines ON
Research / teaching interests
Cultural Studies / Postcolonial Literature and Theory / Africa / Contemporary South African Literature and Culture / Animal Studies / Queer Theory / Posthumanism / Globalization / HIV/AIDS
Grants / other positions
Ontario Graduate Scholarship, 2013 – 2014
Research Fellowship, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, 2012 – present
SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship, 2010 – 2013
Member of Board of Directors, Hamilton AIDS Network, Hamilton, 2009 – 2011
Conference Co-Organizer, Contemporary Orientations in African Cultural Studies
Volunteer Community Education Program Developer, Hamilton AIDS Network, Hamilton, 2009 – 2011.
Arseneault, Jesse, Sarah D'Adamo, Helene Strauss, and Handel Kashope Wright (eds.). "Contemporary Orientations in African Cultural Studies." Special issue of Critical Arts 30 (2016). Print.
Arseneault, Jesse. “On Canicide and Concern: Species Sovereignty in Western Accounts of Rwanda’s Genocide.” The Global Animal. Spec. issue of ESC: English Studies in Canada 39.1 (2013).
Arseneault, Jesse. “Queer Desire and the Men of the Nation: Reading Race and Masculinity in John Greyson’s Proteus.” Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies 10.1 (2013).
Arseneault, Jesse. “Brute Violence and Vulnerable Animality: A Reading of Postcoloniality, Animals, and Masculinity in Damon Galgut’s The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs.” Postcolonial Text 7.4 (2012).