Autobiography, Ethics, and Relations

Due Date: 07-15-2021

Autobiography, Ethics, and Relations will interrogate the ethical challenges, risks, responsibilities, and potentialities embedded in local and global practices of auto/biography. To explore these issues, I invite contributions attuned to questions of agency, responsibility, and accountability to true stories and to the individuals and communities whose lives have been represented in auto/biographical works across mediums, periods, and locations. The collection will not offer firm conclusions, nor will it readily solve ethical challenges or dilemmas. Instead, I encourage contributions that speak to wider issues and relationalities (rather than offer an analysis of a single work), offering provocations while carefully situating them in specific cultural, historical, and material contexts.

The collection will be organized around three interlinked categories—production, circulation, and reception—and potential discussion topics may address (but are not limited to) one or more of the following:


  • The ethics of telling, discovering, recording, or collaborating to represent lived experience
  • The power dynamics and ethical concerns embedded in collaborative production of life stories
  • Responsible practices of working with auto/biographical subjects, documents, and communities
  • Producing life stories in or for community settings (e.g., community-based workshops or projects)
  • Reproducing auto/biographical accounts in translation, restoration, or revised editions
  • Considerations of harm, exploitation, access, implication, consent, benefit, and agency of auto/biographical subjects and their communities


  • The ethics of archiving, curating, anthologizing, and promoting true stories
  • The circulation and use of life stories for or as social justice activism
  • Life stories vis-à-vis human rights discourse
  • Approaches to life stories in history, ethnography, sociology, archaeology, etc.


  • The use of life stories in discourses of state or international recognition and redress
  • The ethics of remembrance, memorializing lives, or commemorating trauma
  • Ethical approaches to reading life writing (privately and publicly)
  • Auto/biographical ethics in discourses of testimony and witnessing
  • Audiences’ responsibilities to true stories and the communities whose experiences are shared

I welcome contributions from emerging or established scholars, artists, writers, curators, or activists, as well as educators, librarians, editors, publishers, and journalists, or archivists. Please send a short abstract (~300 words) and a brief biography (100 words) to Orly Lael Netzer ( by 15 July 2021.

Those invited to submit full chapters will be notified by 15 August 2021. Please note the manuscript will undergo a full peer-review process. Complete chapter drafts should be approximately 7,500–9,000 words including endnotes and bibliography and will be due 30 Jan. 2022. Citations will follow the seventeenth edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.