Professor Elleke Boehmer 'Nelson Mandela: A World Life'

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

Professor Boehmer will speak about Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), first president of democratic South Africa, as a world life-a national leader whose life also had global dimensions. How did this passionately nationalist leader, who identified himself completely with his country and his people, also appeal to the world? And what is his legacy for the globalised 21st century? His story of patient onward progression towards justice and democracy, as told in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom (1994), traces one of the most resonant political stories of the twentieth century, whose influence impacted South Africa, and the rest of the southern African sub-continent, and by extension, if in highly mediatized ways, the world. 

Elleke Boehmer is Professor of World Literature in English, in the English Faculty at the University of Oxford. She is the director of The Oxford Research in the Humanities (TORCH) and deputy director of the Oxford Life Writing Centre at Wolfson College, where she is also a governing body fellow. She is General Editor of the Oxford Studies in Postcolonial Literatures Series, and she was a Man Booker International judge 2013-15. During February 2017, she will be a visiting fellow in the school of history, ANU.

The author of five monographs and five novels, Boehmer is a foundational figure in the field of colonial and postcolonial literary studies. Her monographs are Colonial and Postcolonial Literature (1995, 2005), Resistance in Interaction (2002), Stories of Women (2005), the biography Nelson Mandela (2008), and Indian Arrivals 1870-1915: Networks of British Empire (2015). Her novels include The Shouting in the Dark (2015), Screens again the Sky (1990), Bloodlines (2001), and Nile Baby (2008). She has published the short-story collection Sharmilla and Other Portraits (2010), and edited the British best-seller Robert Baden-Powell's Scouting for Boys (2004), and the anthology Empire Writing (OWC 1998).