David Jefferess, PhD

Associate Professor

Cultural Studies, English, English and Cultural Studies
Other Titles: English and Cultural Studies
Office: CCS 371
Phone: 250.807.9359
Email: david.jefferess@ubc.ca

Graduate student supervisor

Research Summary

Humanitarian Discourse, including: The (White) Saviour Complex, Human Rights Narrative, Global Ethics and Race, Global Material Inter-relationships; Critical Heritage Studies; Colonialism and Decolonization

Courses & Teaching

Critical intercultural reading practices; coloniality/decolonization as cultural projects; human rights discourse; critical heritage studies, focusing on museums, monuments, heritage sites, and other forms of public memory.


David Jefferess is a settler-situated scholar, whose research and teaching is shaped by the cultural, political, and social interests of critically understanding on-going settler colonialism.

David’s courses typically are cross-listed between Cultural Studies and English. He seeks to create a participatory and student-centred learning space. Students devise Community Learning Guidelines at the beginning of each term, and classes are shaped through lecture and story-telling, small and large-group discussion, as well as student presentations and workshops. Students develop skills in critical analysis and argumentation, with emphasis on writing and oral presentation. Most courses include collaborative team-based projects and many assignments are designed to foster creative-scholarship.

David teaches courses focused on critical intercultural studies (CULT 230/ENGL 224); colonialism and decolonization as cultural projects (CULT 340/ENGL 379; CULT 437/ENGL 437); human rights discourse (CULT 346/ENGL 384); and critical heritage studies, focusing on museums, monuments, heritage sites and other forms of public memory (CULT 360/CORH 360).




BA (Hons), McMaster University; B.Ed., Lakehead University; MA, McMaster University; PhD, McMaster University

Selected Publications & Presentations

Books and Collections
“The White Man’s Burden ‘After Race’.” Special Issue Editor. Critical Race and Whiteness Studies. Special Issue: “The White Man’s Burden ‘After Race’” 2015, 11:1.

Globalizing Afghanistan: Terrorism, War, and the Rhetoric of Nation- Building. Co-edited with Zubeda Jalalzai. Duke University Press, 2011.

Postcolonial Resistance: Culture, Liberation, and Transformation. University of Toronto Press, 2008.

Articles and Chapters

“Aid is never the answer.” Canadian Dimension. 24 May 2024.

“‘Humanitarian crisis’ is a euphemism that covers up and shields those responsible”. The New Humanitarian. 5 March 2024.

“Humanitarianism and White Saviors.” Handbook of Critical Whiteness: Deconstructing Dominant Discourses Across Disciplines. Eds. Jioji Ravulo, Katarzyna Olcon, Tinashe Dune, Alex Workman, and Pranee Liamputtong. Springer, 2023.

“Saviours and Saviourism: Lessons of the #WEscandal”. Globalization, Societies, and Education 19:4 (2021)

“WE Charity and the white saviour complex.” Canadian Dimension. 12 August 2020.

“Benevolence, Global Citizenship, and Post-Racial Politics.” The Global Citizenship Nexus: Critical Studies. Eds. Debra Chapman, Tania Ruiz-Chapman, Peter Eglin. Routledge, 2020: 175-193.

“Re-Thinking the Figure of the Humanitarian: Sahar Khalifeh’s The End of Spring and the Function of Human Rights Narrative.” Postcolonial Text. 14:1 (2019) (19pp)

“Cosmopolitan Appropriation or Learning? Relation and Action in Global Citizenship Education.” Globalization and Global Citizenship: Interdisciplinary Approaches. Eds. Irene Langran and Tammy Birk. London: Routledge, 2016.

“Always Beginning: Reconciliation Beyond Inclusion or Loss.” Co-Authored with Allison Hargreaves. The Land We Are: Artists and Writers Unsettle the Politics of Reconciliation. Ed. Sophie McCall and Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill. Winnipeg, ARP Books, 2015.

“Introduction: ‘The White Man’s Burden’ and Post-Racial Humanitarianism.” Critical Race and Whiteness Studies. Special Issue: “The White Man’s Burden ‘After Race’” edited by David Jefferess, 2015. 11.1: 1-11.

Humanitarian Relations: Emotion and the Limits of CritiqueCritical Literacy: Theories and Practice. 2013. 7:1.

“The “Me to We” Social Enterprise: Global Education as Lifestyle Brand.Critical Literacy: Theories and Practice. 2012. 6:1.

“Unsettling Cosmopolitanism: Global Citizenship and the Cultural Politics of Benevolence.” Postcolonial Perspectives on Global Citizenship Education. Eds. Vanessa Andreotti and Lynn Mario T. M. de Souza. London: Routledge, 2012.

“Behind the Mask/I Am the Other: The Fourth World War’s Production of Human Solidarity” Imagining Resistance: Visual Culture and Activism in Canada. Eds. Keri Cronin and Kirsty Robertson. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press: 2011.

Selected Grants & Awards

Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies Teaching Excellence Award, 2014

Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies Community Engagement Award, 2014. Co-recipient with Allison Hargreaves.

SSHRC Standard Research Grant: The Figure of the Human and the Legacy of Race: Global Identities in the Age of Empire, 2009-2013


Professional Services/Affiliations/Committees

Associate Member, Institute for Community Engaged Research, UBC Okanagan.

Associate Member, University of British Columbia Centre for Culture, Identity and Education (CCIE)


CKNW News Talk AM 980. Jon McComb Show. Vancouver, BC. Topic: White Privilege in North America, in the context of recent acts of police and white supremacist violence in the United States. 24 June 2015.  White Privilege in North America

“Thinking and Acting Globally: Benevolence and the Desire to Make a Difference.”
Presented as part of the UBC Okanagan campus’ Research Week, March 2010
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