Southern Lives Workshop

Southern Lives Workshop 2021

Co-organised by Elleke Boehmer and Katherine Collins, this event brings together writers and scholars in the oceanic humanities, postcolonial and Global South studies and polar studies, to explore how the high southern latitudes are imagined through life-writing. With kind thanks to the British Academy Small Grants fund and the Leverhulme Trust for their support. 

Click here to register:


Note: This is a hyrbid event. All times are UK time. When registering tickets, there are options to select in-person or online attendance.



Boaventura de Sousa Santos (Coimbra): Responses, On Southern Lives

Chairs: Katherine Collins and Elleke Boehmer

Followed by Q and A.


Tea & Coffee



Second paper session: ‘Far southern resonances and images’ 

Chair: Charles Pidgeon [Oxford; remote]

Carolyn Philpott [Tasmania; remote] ‘The Musical Lives of Mawson’s Men’
Elizabeth Leane [Tasmania; remote] ‘Decoding the life of an Antarctic radio operator’
Joanna Price [Liverpool John Moores] ‘Scott’s hut and the imagination of ‘intimate immensity’’
Priyanka Shivadas [UNSW Canberra, remote] ‘Limits of Collaborative Life Writing: Juxtaposing Adivasi/Tribal and Indigenous Australian Life Narratives’
Joe Shaughnessy [Cambridge] ‘The spatial imagination of remoteness in New Zealand’




Third paper session: ‘Perspectives on time, change, the environment’ 

Chair: Tom McLean [Oxford]

Emma Parker [Keele] ‘Living with Colonial Remains: Doris Lessing and Janet Frame’
Charne Lavery [Pretoria; remote] ‘Tsunami, Tornado, Tide: Amitav Ghosh’
Confidence Joseph [Wits; remote] ‘Of Water, Water Spirits and Freedom in Sara Blecher’s Otelo Burning’
Isaac Ndlovu [Venda; remote] ‘Biography of a Southern city, Bulawayo’


Tea & Coffee



Fourth paper session: ‘Imagining southern spaces’

Chair: Joe Shaughnessy [Cambridge]

Sarah Comyn [UCD; remote] and Porscha Fermanis [UCD] ‘Southern Activism and Life Writing’
Bernhard Schirg [Hamburg] ‘On Patagonia’
Archie Davies [Sheffield] ‘Josué de Castro’
Pablo Wainschenker [Canterbury; remote] ‘The South as continuum space’
Cristóbal Pérez Barra [Oxford] ‘J.M. Coetzee’s Hispanic South’    

Short break



Workshop feedback and future directions session 

Chair: Elleke Boehmer and Katherine Collins

Here we can offer thoughts and reflections, drawing on comments and questions across the day, and further input from remote participants.

Light buffet dinner*



Final session: ‘Creative-critical crossovers in the South’

Chair: Elleke Boehmer

Khutso Mabokela (Venda; remote) ‘Autofictional reflections’
Elizabeth Lewis Williams [UEA] ‘Remote Imagining’
Louis Rogers [Photographer, Filmmaker, Writer] ‘The Two-Body Problem in the South’



* Lunch and buffet dinner for speakers and those pre-registered for the catered option. 

Note: For those in other time-zones attending on zoom, we will endeavour to record our discussions, in particular the Monday session about the book proposal. We will share the recording overnight, and welcome feedback by email as well as response on zoom during the first coffee break on Tuesday. Elleke and Katie will be in attendance, and anyone else interested in participating is very welcome.

Southern Lives Workshop poster. Photo of ocean horizon with albatross in flight. Logos along the top of image for: OCLW, TORCH, Oxford University, the Pitt Rivers Museum, and the Oxford English Faculty.


More information: The Southern Lives Workshop at the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing is convened by Professor Elleke Boehmer and Dr Katherine Collins, and rises out of Professor Boehmer's British Academy funded Southern Imagining and Tracing Southern Latitudes projects. This Workshop will bring together writers and scholars in the oceanic humanities, postcolonial and Global South studies and polar studies, to explore how the high southern latitudes are imagined through life-writing. 

We are interested in how southern worlds (the southern extremities of the large continents, including Australia, and the southern oceans and islands) are often seen as interconnected or in relation to each other, including in biography, memoir and auto-fiction. This reciprocity forms an important part of the imaginative mapping that life-writing stimulates. 

Our research questions include:

  • What does it mean to view the world from a southern hemisphere perspective?
  • What perspectives do global southern writing and story-telling offer to northern imaginative norms, including that of the ‘Global South’?
  • How might the postcolonial and world literature fields be approached from a consciously antipodean or about-face viewpoint?
  • How do we build comparative and lateral links across southern spaces and lives, and what is the epistemological and environmental traction of doing so?