Life Writing After Empire

The decline of Europe’s overseas empires was a defining event of the twentieth century, profoundly altering the global political and economic landscape and marking the transition from an imperial to a post-imperial world. This workshop examines how individuals have made use of life writing to make sense of that transition on a personal level.

Life writing after empire is much more than a matter of former colonised peoples ‘decolonising the mind’, or ‘writing back’ to the former metropole. The genre also encompasses texts by people searching for the certainties of fixed power structures; works of nostalgia or even regret; or simply narratives of disorientation by individuals trying to come to grips with who they are in a new world of changing aspirations and ideals. To nuance our reading of post-imperial life writing, we need to take a wider range of subject positions into consideration.

This workshop will bring together people who address aspects of this complex reality for a conversation about the personal experience and expression of life writing ‘after empire’.

Embers of Empire is a project comprising the disciplines of English, History, Linguistics and Literature embarking on a major collaborative study of post-imperial violence and the idea of ‘Britain’. Specifically, we propose to explore the relationship between the end of empire and the widely debated ‘break-up of Britain’ since the Second World War. Read more on the dedicated homepage:

The workshop is partly sponsored by CEMES