About The Living Archive

The Living Archive: Extinction Stories from Oceania is a multimedia space that provides a platform for people to tell their own stories, in their own ways, about what extinction means and how it matters in their lives and places. We seek contributions from anyone with a story to tell, including writers, film-makers, artists, poets, cultural practitioners, students, farmers, conservationists and activists.

We understand extinction broadly: species of animals and plants, as well as places themselves, may all face forms of extinction. The stories told here may concern those who are threatened, disappearing, or indeed already gone. At its core, The Living Archive aims to deepen our understanding of what extinction means and why it matters, both for people and their environments. Doing so requires us to challenge a simplistic understanding of our current period of mass extinction as a purely ‘environmental’ crisis that takes place ‘out there’, divorced from people and their cultures. In contrast, this project presents a diverse range of perspectives and experiences that highlight the varied, and often unequal, ways in which the decline and disappearance of irreplaceable aspects of our living world is shaping the contours of local lives and places, impacting on cultural practices, livelihoods, and connections to land and sea.

By creating a space for people to tell their own stories, The Living Archive is grounded in the understanding that personal narratives have the potential to explore local complexity in ways that are relatable and meaningful, and that generate engagement, connection, and attentiveness in this time of great loss. As the Fijian poet and activist Peter Sipeli has succinctly put it: “storytelling is a powerful way for connection.”


The Living Archive is co-ordinated by Thom van Dooren, an environmental/field philosopher and writer. The project is run with the assistance of Samuel Widin (editorial manager) and Hannah Della Bosca (community manager), and is based at the University of Sydney, Australia. Input on this project is generously provided by an International Advisory Board (details below). The site was launched in May 2019.


Funding for The Living Archive has been provided by the Australian Research Council (FT160100098) and the University of Sydney.

International Advisory Board

Dr Tony Birch
Moondani Balluk, Victoria University

Prof. Elizabeth DeLoughrey
Department of English, University of California Los Angeles

Sam ‘Ohu Gon III
Kumu oli and conservation biologist, The Nature Conservancy

Prof. Michael Hadfield
Pacific Biosciences Research Center, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa

Prof. Alexander Mawyer
Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa

Dr Jenny Newell,
Pacific & International Collections, Australian Museum

Martin Romain
Marshall Islands Conservation Society

A/Prof. Craig Santos Perez
Department of English, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa


Need additional information or have a question or comment? Please email us at info@extinctionstories.org and we will get back to you.