Oxford Minds Lecture - Belonging: What the social sciences can learn from the humanities

The series

This term’s series explores social science’s big concepts. It examines the contested meaning and diverse application of some of the theoretical ideas that unify and challenge social scientists. It brings together the bright minds of Oxford, and high profile external speakers, to consider the range of ways in which we can think about ‘power’, ‘space’, ‘identity’, and ‘belonging’.

Elleke Boehmer is Professor of World Literature in English in the English Faculty, University of Oxford, and Director of the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing (OCLW), based at Wolfson College. She was the Director of TORCH 2015-17, and PI on the Andrew W. Mellon-funded ‘Humanities and Identities’ project at The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, 2017-18. She is a founding figure in the field of colonial and postcolonial studies, and internationally known for her research in anglophone literatures of empire and anti-empire. She is a novelist and short story writer, most recently of The Shouting in the Dark (2015 and 2019), and To the Volcano (2019).

Her critical and historical research like her creative work explores issues of migration, identity, friendship, and diaspora; nation, race and gender representation; and world literature and postcolonial debates, particularly relating to sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and contemporary Britain. Elleke Boehmer’s monograph, Indian Arrivals 1870-1915: Networks of British Empire, is a critical historical investigation of South Asian contributions to British literary, social, cultural and political life in the period 1870-1915. Indian Arrivals won the ESSE biennial prize (2015-16). Her most recent book is Postcolonial Poetics (2018), a study of how we read postcolonial and world literatures today, and how the structures of that writing shape our reading.