Participants & Partners



Prof. Dr. Helga Ramsey-Kurz (initiator and co-ordinator of ARENA)

is associate professor of Anglophone literatures at the University of Innsbruck and has also taught at the Universities of East Anglia, Graz and Alberta.

She was  recipient of a Charlotte Bühler Habilitation Grant awarded by the Austrian Science Foundation for the book project, The Non-Literate Other: Readings of Illiteracy in Twentieth-Century Novels in English (Brill, 2007), which was followed by a series of publications critiquing socioeconomic inequality. This special interest led her to host the 15th Triennial Conference of EACLALS (European Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies) in Innsbruck under the topic “Uncommon Wealths: Riches and Reality”, and to edit the essay collection Uncommon Wealths in Postcolonial Fiction (Brill, 2018) together with Melissa Kennedy . From 2014 until 2021 she served as EACLALS chair, and board member, respectively.

While the ambiguous place of wealth in discourses of socioeconomic inequality continues to be a central concern of her work, she has been specialising also in (life) writing for, by and about migrants. See, for instance, the two essay collections published together with Geetha Ganapathy-Doré, Projections of Paradise: Ideal Elsewheres in Postcolonial Migrant Literature (Rodopi, 2011) and On the Move: The Journey of Refugees in New Literatures in English (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012), and Fluchtgeschichten–Refugee Narratives (iup, 2020), a bilingual anthology of texts by students participating in the first WREN (Writing Refugee Encounter Narratives) seminar held in Innsbruck in 2017.




Annetta Benzar, MA

is a Belarussian-Cypriot writer, project curator, and educator based in Cyprus. Her writing explores the connection between people and landscape, in static flows and movement, across gender, migratory self-identity, and sociopolitical structures. She published her first non-fiction collection, I am Cyprus, in 2020 and acted as the lead project coordinator of Larnaka: The Anthology, a collection of poetry, stories, and art inspired by the city of Larnaca (2021). 




Dr. Michela Borzaga

is currently Lecturer in Comparative Literature at Utrecht University. She was a postdoc assistant in English literature and culture at the English Department of the University of Vienna and Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Stellenbosch and Cape Town. Between 2008 and 2012, she worked as a research assistant in the research project “Trauma, Memory, and Narrative in the Contemporary South African Novel” led by Prof. Ewald Mengel and funded by the Austrian Research Fund (FWF). Her research interests include critical theory, South African literature, cultural memory and trauma studies, poetics, (post)colonial thinking and European forms of ‘colonial aphasia’ (Stoler).

She has published articles in journals such as The Journal of Postcolonial Writing, The Journal of Literary Studies, Australian Literary Studies, and Gender: Journal for Gender, Culture and Society. She has co-editedImagination in a Troubled Space: A Poetry Reader(with Dorothea Steiner; Poetry Salzburg, 2004),Trauma, Memory, and Narrative in South Africa: Interviews(with Ewald Mengel and Karin Orantes; Brill/Rodopi, 2009) andTrauma, Memory, and Narrative in South Africa: Essays(with Ewald Mengel; Brill/Rodopi, 2012).

In her PhD thesis, Trauma on the Move (currently being revised for publication), she suggests innovative theoretical lenses and new critical pedagogies through which we can approach postcolonial trauma novels: lived time, walking, spatiality and materiality. Her planned second monograph is provisionally entitled Achille Mbembe the Literary Critic: On Reading Shadows and Reading Cures.


Prof. Dr. Marc Delrez

is a professor at the University of Liège, Belgium, where he teaches Anglophone literature, with a special interest in identity formation as it crystallizes in literary texts of the contemporary period in the former settler colonies. He has been the Chair of EASA, the European Association for the Study of Australia, from 2011 to 2015.

His research has led him to publish on the work of the New Zealand novelist and short story writer Janet Frame, whom he admires greatly, as well as on an array of Australian writers whose investment in a certain idea of nationalism has sometimes seemed at odds with their professed progressive politics. His involvement in the ARENA Project, and his wish to be implicated in the fate of refugees in his own country, derived initially from his revulsion from Australia’s genocidal approach to asylum seekers, as manifest in the infamous but seminal ‘Pacific Solution’.

He is currently developing an interest in how literature might meet the imaginative challenge of adequately representing climate change, together with the need to move away from the destructive consequences of European entitlement and privilege and towards a sense of climate justice.


de Waal

Dr. Ariane de Waal

is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer of English Literature and Culture at the University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany. She is the author of Theatre on Terror: Subject Positions in British Drama (De Gruyter, 2017). She is currently working on epistemological intersections of dermatology and the Victorian realist novel. Beyond Victorian studies, her research focuses on cultural, literary, and dramatic responses to war, (counter-)terrorism, neoliberalism, and climate change. She has published widely on racism, hostility, and the construction of deportability in post-9/11 and post-referendum British contexts.

After completing her PhD at Ruhr University Bochum in 2016, Ariane de Waal worked as a postdoc in the English Department at the University of Innsbruck for three years. During this time, she started collaborating closely with Helga Ramsey-Kurz and became involved in the conceptual development of WREN (Writing Refugee Encounter Narratives). For the summer term of 2021, she created a literary studies course on “Refugee Narratives”, which was integrated into the teaching collaborations of ARENA and will be extended in the summer term of 2022.



Dr. Ewan Dow

is a modern linguist who has worked in language and literature teaching and management for some forty years in Great Britain, mainland Europe and Mainland China in secondary and tertiary contexts. His doctorate was on German-Chinese university collaborations from the colonial era to the present. Currently he works in Germany at the Ruhr University Bochum, teaching language and literature as a Senior Tutor in the English Department. His research interests include Discourse Analysis, Translation Studies, qualitative research, narratology, university internationalisation, British drama and poetry and he has been involved in the ‘ARENA’ Life Writing project since 2019.




Prof. Dr. Mina Karavanta

is Associate Professor of Literary Theory, Cultural Studies and Global World Literatures in the Faculty of English Studies of the School of Philosophy of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. She specialises in postcolonial studies, critical theory and has published numerous articles in international academic journals such as boundary 2, Callaloo, Feminist Review, Modern Fiction Studies, Mosaic, Symplokē, Journal Of Contemporary Theory.

She has co-edited Interculturality and Gender,with Joan Anim-Addo & Giovanna Covi, (Mango Press, 2009) and Edward Said and Jacques Derrida: Reconstellating Humanism and the Global Hybrid,with Nina Morgan (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008). She has translated George Steiner’s Heidegger into Greek (Patakis, 2009), and Haris Vlavianos’s poetry into English, Affirmation: Selected Poems 1986-2006 (Dedalus, 2007).

From 2009 to 2014 she was a member of the interdisciplinary research group Travelling Concepts(ATHENA, European Thematic Network) and a co-ordinator of the research subgroup Interculturality and Gender. From 2011 to 2014 she was a research participant in “Behind the Looking-Glass: ‘“Other”-Cultures-Within’ translating cultures,” an interdisciplinary AHRC-funded-network co-ordinated by Professor Joan Anim-Addo (University of London, Goldsmiths). 

She is a founding member and co-editor of the peer-reviewed electronic journal Synthesis: An Anglophone Journal of Comparative Literary Studies




Janni Krog-Nielsen

is a student of English and teacher trainee at the University of Innsbruck. She has a longstanding interest in creative writing and literature. In the summer term of 2019, she participated in the ARENA project and the first-hand experience of life writing by means of cross-cultural narration sparked the wish to do further work on this fascinating way of negotiating migration. She decided to write her MA thesis within this field, placing her focus on the impact life writing can have and the affect it can elicit. She has been working as an assistant with Helga Ramsey-Kurz since March 2022 and with the staff of DAM (Dokumentationsarchiv Migration) towards making the journals written within the project available to researchers and other interested readers. DAM's anticipated launch is set for the autumn of 2022.




Dr. Virginia Monteforte

is an anthropologist, literary translator and photographer. Her work deals with social memory, politics, migration and literature in the Mediterranean. She studied Ethno-Anthropological Disciplines at La Sapienza in Rome and Social Anthropology and Ethnology at the EHESS in Paris where she was awarded a PhD in with a thesis about political and social memory in post-colonial Malta.

She works in the curation of artistic and community projects and is a visiting lecturer at the University of Malta in the department of Anthropological Sciences and for the NOHA (Master's degree in International Humanitarian Action). She is also an associate member of ISIT ResearchLaboratory in Paris.

As member and current president of Rima, an association aiming at exploring, rethinking and reshaping the multifaceted aspects of displacement and the discourses around it, through a series of creative and multidisciplinary initiatives, she has organised interdisciplinary workshops and film festivals and co-curated the publication ofUndertow,Poetics of displacement(2016) and curatedTo be defined(2018), an artistic exhibition followed by a publication, organised within the framework of European Capital of Culture 2018, hosted by Valletta during that year. She is the author of several anthropological and literary essays and published translations of poetry and prose.



Dr. Delphine Munos

A co-editor of the book series “Cross/Cultures: Readings in Post/Colonial Literatures and Cultures in English” (Brill), Delphine Munos works in the Modern Languages Department at the University of Liège, Belgium, where she is a member of the postcolonial research group CEREP. Delphine has held FRS-FNRS and Humboldt postdoctoral fellowships and she is a Visiting Professor of English Literature at the Department of Literary Studies, Ghent University.

The author of After Melancholia (2013), a monograph on Jhumpa Lahiri, she specializes in Anglophone postcolonial literatures and US ethnic literatures, with a special focus on ‘minor-to-minor’ interactions between different postcolonial places and minority histories. She has published articles in journals such as Postcolonial Text, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, and Journal of Postcolonial Writing and she has co-edited journal issues for South Asian Diaspora (2014; 2018) and Journal of Postcolonial Writing (2018; Routledge, 2019).

Her research interests include postcolonial and minority literatures, memory and trauma studies, psychoanalysis, narrative theory, affect theory as well as born-digital literatures. She has two main research projects. “Digital Natives” looks at born-digital literatures and online book talk in the global South and the global North. Her second research project investigates the intersection of affect theory and postcolonial literatures.



Violet Stathopoulou-Vais, MA

holds an MA in English Language and Literature from the Aristoteles University of Thessaloniki and a CTEFLA from the University of Cambridge and the Royal Society of Arts in London. She worked as a Cambridge English Speaking Examiner and Exam Supervisor both in Greece and Germany before joining the English Department at the University of Innsbruck, where she teaches language courses at both under- and postgraduate level. She has designed and taught special creative writing workshops for participants in WREN-seminars to help augment and hone students' skills in transcultural communication and the production of creative non-fiction.

Partner Institutions:


DAM — Dokumentationsarchiv Migration Tirol ( specialises in documenting migration to Tyrol. It will house and expertly maintain all the texts written for ARENA by students in Innsbruck as well as at other universities in
Europe since 2018. Access to the collection will be granted on site and, upon special application to DAM, also online.

The following institutions have been providing contacts with refugees, offering their venues as meeting places for students and and their project partners, and/or supporting ARENA through workshops on intercultural communication:


Caritas Tirol:   https//

Diakonie Flüchtlingsdienst:

Flüchtlingsheim Sistrans-Aldrans:

Integrationsbüro der Stadtgemeinde Imst:

Tiroler Soziale Dienste:

ZeMit (Zentrum für Migranten und Migrantinnen in Tirol):

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