IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


The times of our lives: Living and learning in crisis

30 January 2024, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

Two young people sitting at desks working in an office (Photo: Cultura Creative / Adobe Stock)

Join this event to hear Jill Bradbury introduce her narrative work on crisis with life-stories in South Africa.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to





Alison Lamont


55 - 59 Gordon Square

We are living and learning in a collective crisis. In the last decade, the world has been shaken by seismic events: the global pandemic, violent geopolitical conflicts, and multiple ‘natural’ disasters affected by climate change. The NEST research project explores these times in the South African context, narrating the (im)possibilities for practices of critical hope in a present that is shadowed by the apartheid past and by flickering visions of the future. Earlier anticipatory hopes have been displaced by despair and disillusionment for the older generation, and the younger generation has been ‘born-free’ into a violent world of exploitation and inequality. 

In this terrain, Erikson’s psychological crises of identity vs role confusion for the young, and integrity vs despair for the old, are oscillating currents for all of us rather than linear, developmental stages. The talk will utilise Michelle Fine’s notion of ‘critical bifocality’ to think about how personal life stories are infused by the global dynamics of political history. Three narratives of crisis provide points of articulation for these reflections:

  1. Forgetting to remember Covid
  2. Watching war and making worthy victims
  3. Toppling statues and Falling forward into decolonial futures

This event will be particularly useful for those interested in methods, life histories, oral history, narrative methods, South Africa and crisis.

Related links

About the Speaker

Jill Bradbury

Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Her research focuses on intergenerational narratives, socio-historical theories of personhood, the transformation of higher education, and the (im)possibilities of individual and social change. She is the principal investigator of the NEST (Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation) research project.