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Centre for Research on Colonial Culture
Rethinking Colonialism & its Legacies

CFP: Nga Taonga Tuku Iho 2018

The 2018 National Conference of the Archives and Records Association of New Zealand will take place from 25-28 August at Rotorua.

The theme of the conference is Māori archives and records. This theme and kaupapa allows for an exploration of the discovery, preservation, description, record keeping, interconnectedness and meaning of Māori records, archives and taonga. The 2018 conference looks to explore opportunities for researchers, communities and organisations to collaborate in the guardianship of knowledge, facilitate researcher engagement and help safeguard our collective past in perpetuity.

Areas of focus, and possible topics, could include:

  •   Iwi and community archives
  •  Conservation and preservation of collections
  •   Preventing and managing disasters
  •  Documenting heritage collections and taonga
  • Collection descriptions for indigenous designed databases
  •  Record-keeping standards and authority headings
  •  Digitising collections
  •  Cultural sensitivities and archival ethics
  • Research into Māori collections and archives
  • Displacement of collections and repatriation
  • Collecting archives in a post-Treaty environment
  •  Resourcing and funding challenges
  • Ownership and kaitiakitanga
  • Te Reo as part of the record
  • Distributed collecting across institutions and iwi archives
  • Connecting communities through records and archives


Proposals for 20 minute papers are invited. Abstracts of 450-500 words and a short bio should be submitted via email to Tiena Jordan ( by the 31st March 2018.


Public and Popular History

The Centre was pleased to host Tanya Evans of Macquarie University who gave a public lecture last week.  While this was Tanya’s first trip to New Zealand, we also welcomed back a more regular visitor from Australia, Kristyn Harman (University of Tasmania) accompanied by her partner, Nick Brodie.

Academics are encouraged to make their research more “impactful”, which for Humanities scholars is often to get their research out beyond the narrow academic enclaves we work in.  Presentations from all of three of the visitors above were relevant to this theme.  Tanya, Director of Macquarie’s Research Centre for Applied History, discussed ‘The Emotions of Family History’, looking at why family historians and genealogists undertake their research, and how such research informs wider community understanding of, and individuals’ emotional connection to the past.  In her investigations, Tanya interacts with family historians, with her research having far more impact than that of more siloed academic history.

Kristyn Harman (centre) and the Tuesday Club, Toitū Early Settlers Museum.

Kristyn was in Dunedin to launch her new book, Cleansing the Colony: Transporting Convicts from New Zealand to Van Diemen’s Land (published by Otago University Press) which examines the more than 100 people sent from New Zealand into the Australian penal institutions.  Kristyn also gave a lecture on these convicts to the Tuesday Club at Toitū: Otago Settlers Museum last week.  Although most of the Club are retired and from many walks of life, they were keen, attentive, and intellectually engaged, with Kristyn’s talk attracting their largest crowd of the year.

Nick Brodie is an established Australian popular historian, author of Kin, 1787, and The Vandemonian War.  Although he has his own academic background in history and archaeology, he now reaches a much larger market through well-researched but accessible books.  Nick shared his own publishing experiences in a seminar to both staff and postgraduates at the university, with tips on how to make history relevant and engaging for non-academic audiences.


Eugenics at the Edges of Empire

That’s the title of a book that has just been published by co-editors Diane Paul, Hamish Spencer and CRoCC member John Stenhouse. The collection emerged out of a two-day symposium organised by the editorial team at St Margaret’s College in early 2015 and sponsored by the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture. It features contributions from several Centre members (John Stenhouse, Barbara Brookes and Angela Wanhalla), in addition to chapters on New Zealand from a number of other scholars and researchers (Charlotte Macdonald, Caroline Daley, Diane Paul, Hamish Spencer and Emma Gattey). Essays on Australia (Stephen Garton and Ross L. Jones), Canada (Erika Dyck and Alex Deighton) and South Africa (Susanne Klausen), also feature, marking this as the first collection to focus on eugenics as it developed and was applied in the British Dominions. Many congratulations to the editors and all the contributors on the publication of this important collection.


Charlotte Macdonald RSNZ

The Centre joins with the New Zealand Historical Association in warmly congratulating Professor Charlotte Macdonald (Victoria University of Wellington) on her recent appointment as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Charlotte has been a great supporter of New Zealand history generally, and is noted for her sharp intellect, her groundbreaking contributions to New Zealand and colonial history, as well as her intellectual generosity. We are certain there are many of us in the history community who have benefited enormously from Charlotte’s advice, guidance and mentorship over the years. Congratulations from all of us here in Dunedin, Charlotte!


Writing Popular History

We are looking forward to hearing visiting scholar Dr. Nick Brodie’s presentation, “From PhD to Popular Author”.

After completing a doctoral dissertation in late medieval and early modern English vagrancy legislation, Nick Brodie has become a popular author of Australian history. His books, Kin: A Real People’s History of Our Nation (2015); 1787: The Lost Chapters of Australia’s Beginnings (2016); and The Vandemonian War: The Secret History of Britain’s Tasmanian Invasion (2017) mark him as one of Australia’s most prolific and critically acclaimed writers of popular history. In this talk Nick will discuss his journey from PhD to popular author. He will address the challenges of balancing scholarly integrity with popular accessibility, the opportunities for historians outside of the university sector, and will talk about some of the historical discoveries he has made along the way.

Please join us for Nick’s talk on Wednesday 15 November in Burns 5, starting at 3.30.


The Emotions of Family History

This week the Centre is hosting several visiting scholars: Kristyn Harman and Nick Brodie from the University of Tasmania, as well as Tanya Evans from Macquarie University, a noted historian of women, motherhood and the family in Britain and Australia. While in Dunedin, Tanya will give a public lecture on ‘The Emotions of Family History’.

In this lecture Tanya will explore the emotions of family history in Australia, England and Canada – why family historians are motivated to undertake their research and the emotional impact of their discoveries. Using survey data and oral history interviews it will reveal some of the ways in which historical research and communication about the past provides ‘ordinary’ people with social, emotional and cultural capital – how it has transformed them, their lives and the lives of those around them. Family history researchers are sometimes dismissed by the academy for their amateurism and they are also criticised for seeking emotional connections with the past lives of their forebears. I want to suggest that these criticisms are linked. The derision still sometimes shown towards genealogists needs to be challenged and the practice of family history better understood because it has an enormous impact on historical consciousness and individual subjectivities.

All are welcome to attend the talk, which is scheduled for Tuesday 14 November, 5.30pm in Moot Court, 10th floor of the Richardson Building at the University of Otago.

Cleansing the Colony: Lecture and Book Launch

Dr. Kristyn Harman (University of Tasmania), who was a visiting scholar with the Centre in 2014, has returned to Dunedin for the launch of her latest book, Cleansing the Colony: Transporting Convicts from New Zealand to Van Diemen’s Land. She will also give a public talk on her book at Toitū.

Please feel free to come along to one or both of these events. Details are below:

Lecture: ‘Cleansing the Colony’, Tuesday 14 November, 10am at Toitū Otago Settlers Museum Auditorium.

During the mid-nineteenth century at least 110 people were transported from New Zealand to serve time as convict labourers in the penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). Even more were sentenced by colonial judges to the harsh punishment of transportation, but somehow managed to avoid being sent across the Tasman Sea. In this talk, the remarkable experiences of unremarkable people like William Phelps Pickering, a self-made entrepreneur turned criminal; Margaret Reardon, a potential accomplice to murder and convicted perjurer; and Te Kumete, transported as a rebel will be explored. Their stories, and others like them, reveal a complex colonial society overseen by a governing class intent on cleansing the colony of what was considered to be a burgeoning criminal underclass.

Book Launch: Thursday 16 November, 5.30pm at University Book Shop, 378 Great King Street.

Katie Pickles awarded a James Cook Research Fellowship

The Centre for Research on Colonial Culture extends warmest congratulations to Prof. Katie Pickles of the University of Canterbury’s History Programme, and former President of the New Zealand Historical Association, on being awarded a prestigious James Cook Research Fellowship by the Royal Society Te Apārangi. Katie will use the James Cook Fellowship to research heroines in global history, a topic on which she has extensively published during her career. We extend our congratulations on this wonderful acknowledgement of her research excellence and celebrate the recognition this award brings to New Zealand’s colonial and post-colonial histories. All the best for the project, Katie.



CRoCC Seminar: Skeletons in the Attic

A reminder that our final seminar of the year will be presented by Dr. Rosi Crane, a newly minted Associate Member of the Centre. She will speak about the prehistory of Otago Museum’s zoological collections, which were acquired before the First World War but have precious little documentation associated with them. Drawing upon the specimens themselves, labels and photographs, this presentation will consider how we can use these sources to make sense of the scientific approaches to curating in nineteenth century Dunedin.

Please join us at 3.30 on Friday 27 October in the Hocken Seminar Room (90 Anzac Avenue) to hear what promises to be a great talk.

Seminar: Skeletons in the Attic: The Prehistory of Otago Museum

Our next CRoCC seminar will be presented by Dr. Rosi Crane, who will speak about the prehistory of Otago Museum’s zoological collections.

These collections were acquired before the First World War but have precious little documentation associated with them. Serendipitous finds in scattered archives are beginning to paint a detailed picture of what the public saw when the museum opened in its new building on Great King Street in 1877. However, the principal sources are the specimens themselves, their labels, and a handful of photographs. This presentation will consider how we can use these sources to make sense of the scientific approaches to curating in nineteenth century Dunedin.

Please join us at 3.30 on Friday 27 October in the Hocken Seminar Room (90 Anzac Avenue) to hear what promises to be a great talk.



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