Southern Lives

Southern Lives Network Header

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?

To view the outputs from the 2021 Southern Lives Workshop, click here.


The Southern Lives Network 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.

The Network 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. 

Our inaugural workshop, convened by Professor Boehmer, took place in December 2020, when we heard snapshot presentations on subjects ranging from the lives of icebergs to African beach portraiture and water spirit narratives in South Africa. Twenty scholars from around the world participated, including from Argentina, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia.

Professor Elleke Boehmer on Southern Imaginings at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study.

Extract from The Philosophy of Storms by Katherine Collins