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Centre for Research on Colonial Culture
Rethinking Colonialism & its Legacies

Oceanian Journeys and Sojourns

An exciting new book, Oceanian Journeys and Sojourns: Home thoughts abroad, edited by Centre member, Professor Judy Bennett, was launched last night.


Professor Judy Bennett, editor of Oceanian Journeys and Sojourns.

A good crowd squeezed into the Pacific Islands Centre at the University of Otago to attend this launch.  Assoc Prof Jenny Bryant-Tokalau (Te Tumu) introduced the book, which “focuses on how Pacific Island peoples – Oceanians – think about a range of journeys near and far: their meanings, motives and implications.”  The book, published by Otago University Press, is notable for having mostly authors who are Pacific Islanders, including a number of women.

Narratives of Colonial Conflict

This afternoon CRoCC member Associate Professor Annabel Cooper is presenting her research in the Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work seminar series. The topic is ‘Narrating Colonial Conflict in the Early 1980s: Some Reflections on the Culture Moment of Utu‘. Her seminar examines how Utu re-makes the colonial past within a tumultuous present. It traces the film’s links to a series of documentaries of the same era, including Bastion Point – Day 507 (Mita, Narbey, Pohlmann, 1980), The Bridge – A Story of Men in Dispute (Pohlmann, Mita, 1982), and Patu! (Mita, 1983), and to the drama series The Governor (1977); and it investigates the contributions of significant individuals involved in the production, including Keith Aberdein, Wi Kuki Kaa, Merata Mita, and Anzac Wallace.

Annabel’s seminar begins at 3pm this afternoon at 530 Castle Street (530 C1).



The Centre for Research on Colonial Culture is proud to announce the creation of a website to support the Centre and its researchers. Click here to check it out. We hope you like it and encourage you to bookmark it. The blog will still be operating, and will continue to be a important site for advertising events, as well as communicating news about research, publications and seminars. So continue to follow us, but also check out the website.

Thanks to the University of Otago’s Web Services and Tushar Robins, Humanities Division, for helping to bring about the website.


Dunedin’s Genetic Inheritance and Caribbean Cultural Thought.

The Centre has recently hosted two riveting research-based talks.


Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith

The first, on Sunday 10 May, was part of the Centre’s ongoing project, Global Dunedin.  Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith, a biological anthropologist from Genetics Otago gave a public lecture at Toitū: Otago Settlers Museum, “Who do you think you are – Dunedin?”

Lisa discussed the genetic ancestry of Dunedin’s population based on the testing of randomly selected DNA samples.  This research is part of  the “Africa to Aotearoa” project, in which Lisa looks at the deep ancestry of New Zealanders, which in turn is part of a wider international study, the Genographic project, funded in part by National Geographic.   While one might  suspect that Dunedin’s genetic make-up is essentially homogenous from its Scottish heritage, the research shows just how diverse Dunedin’s population is, in line with other major cities in New Zealand.


Dr Aaron Kamugisha

On Thursday, May 15 visiting scholar Dr Aaron Kamugisha gave a CRoCC seminar, “The Caribbean’s Intellectual History through Culture”. Aaron discussed the global impact of Caribbean theorist’s, particularly CLR James, amongst others, on the development and dissemination of anti-colonial thought and intellectual traditions. He placed these theorists in the context of the development of two threads of intellectual history: Caribbean Studies and Caribbean Cultural Studies, but argued that these thinkers ought to be understood in term of Caribbean radical thought.



James Cowan Research now published.

“Born to a soldier-settler family at the end of a decade of colonial conflict, James Cowan grew up on the site of the Battle of Ōrākau. In the anxious years after the Waikato War, he learned the language and the stories of people on both sides. He went on to become a journalist and a historian of colonial New Zealand, and perhaps the most widely-read interpreter between Māori and Pākehā cultures in the first half of the twentieth century.”

In February 2014 a successful one-day conference on James Cowan and his impact was held at the Alexander Turnbull Library, jointly organized by Associate Professor Annabel Cooper from CROCC and Ariana Tikao, Research Librarian Māori at the Turnbull.  Research from the conference has now been published (freely available online) in a special issue of the Journal of New Zealand Studies, James Cowan and the Legacies of Late Colonial Culture in Aotearoa New Zealand”.

Caribbean Intellectual History

On Thursday 14 May the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture is running a research seminar. The speaker is Dr Aaron Kamugisha who teaches cultural studies, the history of political thought & intellectual history at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill. His recent publications include Caribbean Political Thought: The Colonial State to Caribbean Internationalisms (Kingston: Ian Randle, 2013), an edited collection Caribbean Political Thought: Theories of the Post-Colonial State (Kingston: Ian Randle, 2013); and another collection co-edited with Yanique Hume, Caribbean Cultural Thought: From Plantation to Diaspora (Kingston: Ian Randle, 2013).

Dr. Kamugisha’s talk is titled “The Caribbean’s Intellectual History Through Culture” and will be held at 1pm in 2N8 in the History Department’s Seminar Room.

All are welcome.

Who Do You Think You Are – Dunedin?

The next lecture in the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture’s ‘Global Dunedin’ initiative will be given by Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith who will detail some cutting edge research on the deep ancestry of Dunedinites from her “Africa to Aotearoa” project, which looks at the ancestry of New Zealanders. As part of this project over 200 samples were collected from across the population of Dunedin. So who do you think you are, Dunedin? What does the genetic ancestry of Dunedin look like compared to Wellington, or Christchurch or Auckland? What does it tell us about the history of Dunedin?

Lisa’s lecture will take place on Sunday 10th May 2015 at 2:00pm at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum – Auditorium.

And don’t forget to ‘like’ Global Dunedin on Facebook and follow the blog.

Professor Sir Christopher Bayly

The Centre for Research on Colonial Culture would like to mark the passing of Professor Sir Christopher Bayly, noted historian, intellectual and mentor, who passed away in Chicago over the weekend. Not only did Professor Bayly lay the foundation for breathtaking new interpretations of Indian and global intellectual history, he was also a generous scholar and fine human being who, in the words of Richard Drayton “treated his younger colleagues and students as equals, and had a quality of attention to each of them which is rarely found even in the best graduate teachers.” One of those former students was Professor Tony Ballantyne, the director of the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture. The Centre was fortunate to have Professor Bayly on our International Advisory Board, and we deeply regret the loss of a remarkable historian and pass on our sympathy to his family and all who knew him.

Dunedin Sound

The first ‘Global Dunedin’ public lecture takes place on Sunday 12 April.

Join us at 2pm in the Auditorium at Toitū Otago Settlers Museum to hear Dr Graeme Downes – from the University’s Department of Music and the renowned frontman of the Verlaines – talking about Dunedin music, particularly in light of the very successful Tally Ho! collaboration with the Southern Sinfonia.

Please come along!!

Dunedin’s Past, Present and Future

The Centre for Research on Colonial Culture is supporting a new initiative concerned with globalising local histories through the Global Dunedin project. We outlined this new initiative briefly in a post last month, but you can read about it in more detail in this news item from the University of Otago. Tony Ballantyne, Director of CRoCC and who has taken the lead on developing Global Dunedin, says the project is “the first of its kind for the University and for Dunedin. We think it is an important undertaking because our city is packed with really compelling and interesting stories. And sharing those stories is one way in which we might help strengthen the bonds of community”. We hope you’ll take an interest in Global Dunedin by following the blog and attending the associated public lectures, which are held on the second Sunday of each month at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum.


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