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Centre for Research on Colonial Culture
Rethinking Colonialism & its Legacies

Introducing Global Dunedin

March 23 is Otago Anniversary Day, but it also happens to be the occasion for the launch of a new initiative from the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture: Global Dunedin. Have a look at Global Dunedin’s Blog, which is designed to serve as a forum for discussing Dunedin’s historical development and its changing economy, social life, and cultural pattern. The project will showcase how the city has changed over time and the ways in which its pasts have shaped its current and future prospects. The blog – together with an associated Facebook page and Twitter account (@GlobalDunedin) – will disseminate reflections on the city’s history and life here now.

In addition to a social media presence, the Global Dunedin project team are also running a public lecture series in conjunction with Toitū Otago Settlers Museum: in these Sunday afternoon talks, leading local researchers and thinkers will reflect on different aspects of Dunedin’s past and present.

Follow us and join in the conversations!

Global Dunedin

 

Visiting Fellow

The Centre for Research on Colonial Culture is very pleased to be hosting Dr. Patricia O’Brien, an ARC Future Fellow based at the Australian National University. In 2012 she was the JD Stout Fellow in New Zealand Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, and in 2011 she was the Jay I. Kislak Fellow in American Studies at the John W. Kluge Centre at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC. From 2001-2013 she was visiting Associate Professor in the Centre for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies at Georgetown University, Washington, DC. She is the author of The Pacific Muse: Exotic Femininity and the Colonial Pacific (Seattle, 2006) and is currently working on a biography of Samoan nationalist leader Ta’isi O. F. Nelson.

Dr. O’Brien is visiting the Centre until March 24th and while in Dunedin will be giving two research talks. Her first talk is on Wednesday March 18th in the Department of History and Art History (Burns 5, from 3.30) on ‘Ta’isi O. F. Nelson and the Mau: Australian Dimensions to New Zealand and Samoan History’. On March 23rd she will present a paper to Te Tumu: School of Maori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies called ‘The Trials of Mr Nelson: Ta’isi O. F. Nelson and Indigenous Resistance in Interwar Samoa’. This talk will take in Cen3 (Central Library) from 2.30.

We hope to see you at both talks!

 

CFP: Children & Young People in British Colonial Contexts

Dr. Hugh Morrison, with support from the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture, will be hosting a 2-day symposium on 24 & 25 August at the Hocken Collections on the histories and experiences of children and young people. The Call for Papers is below:

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Unpicking the Tapestry: Children & Young People in British Colonial Contexts

Children and young people were ubiquitous and significant players on the stage of national and colonial formation, yet this remains a significant gap in the history and historiography of British world colonial societies like Aotearoa New Zealand. Therefore an exclusive focus on the historical place of children and young people in comparative colonial contexts is timely in terms of further development; both in the New Zealand context and that of the wider British world. Such discussion can inform a better historical understanding that is locally, nationally, and transnationally configured.

This symposium is sponsored by the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture at the University of Otago, New Zealand. It aims to bring together scholars (from New Zealand and beyond) who are interested in a range of aspects of colonial children and young people under the rubric of ‘unpicking the tapestry’. If colonialism is the overall tapestry holding together children’s and young people’s lives, then what is revealed when we begin picking away at the individual strands of this tapestry? In particular the symposium is interested in addressing a number of key questions which include: What does it mean to talk about ‘colonial childhoods or adolescence’ or to think about children and young people in relation to colonialism? What colonial sites were significant or influential for children’s and young people’s lives, and in what colonial sites were children influential? To what extent were children and young people constrained by boundaries or moved fluidly across boundaries (eg. gender, race or ethnicity, nation, class, religion), and to what effect? What are the sources for excavating and interpreting colonial childhoods? What are the gaps and silences? How do we negotiate these? In what ways might a comparative approach (across colonial societies) expand or limit our understanding of colonial childhoods and adolescence? What are the significant challenges and opportunities in this field of academic enquiry? These are some of the questions we wish to explore further over two days of keynote address, paper presentations and round-table discussions.

The keynote speaker will be Canadian historian Professor Kristine Alexander, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Studies at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta. She will be joined in round-table discussions by education historian Professor Helen May (College of Education, University of Otago) and one further person to be confirmed. Up to a further 16 paper presentations are anticipated in plenary session form (half hour sessions per paper).

Paper proposals should be sent by email to Dr Hugh Morrison (hugh.morrison@otago.ac.nz) in the form of a 300 word (maximum) abstract, accompanied by a paragraph giving academic or professional background by Tuesday 31 March, 2015. Accepted papers will be notified by Friday 24 April at the latest. There will be no registration/symposium costs for presenters, but travel and accommodation costs will need to be individually paid for. It is anticipated that symposium papers will be published as an edited book collection or special journal issue.

Eugenics in British Colonial Contexts

posterThe Centre’s year has kicked off to a good start with “Eugenics in British Colonial Contexts: Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa” in the comfortable facilities of St Margaret’s College, on 7-8 February. This single-stream conference was organized by Associate Professor John Stenhouse (History, and CROCC) and Professor Hamish Spencer (Genetics, and Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution), and Professor Emerita  Diane Paul (University of Massachusetts Boston, Research Associate, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, and currently William Evans Fellow at Otago).

After the event was opened by PVC Humanities, Professor Brian Moloughney, Tony Ballantyne (Otago) spoke first on “Colonisation and the problem of Population”. Tony began with the question, when did the Eugenics begin in New Zealand, as its history has various possible beginning points. It was an issue that had significant discursive importance to the big questions of the day, in particular with regard to population, immigration, and political economy.

After the event was opened by PVC Humanities, Professor Brian Moloughney, Tony Ballantyne (Otago) spoke first on “Colonisation and the problem of Population”. Tony began with the question, when did the Eugenics begin in New Zealand, as its history has various possible beginning points. It was an issue that had significant discursive importance to the big questions of the day, in particular with regard to population, immigration, and political economy.

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Assoc Prof John Stenhouse

John Stenhouse (Otago) spoke on William Pember Reeves, the Liberal politician of the late nineteenth century. Reeves, celebrated for his Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration legislation, is less well known for his efforts to restrict the immigration of undesirables, including those deemed to be physically or mentally defective. Reeves was one step beyond public opinion, and his efforts stalled. A watered-down bill, principally anti-Asian, was more successful.

Sir Robert Stout, eminent New Zealand politician and jurist, was the focus of Emma Gattey’s (Otago) talk.   A Freethinker and advocate of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, Stout’s interest in eugenics is less well known. An active member of the Eugenics Society, Stout pushed for the segregation of mental defectives from society. Even his own daughter, an epileptic, was held at Seacliff Lunatic Asylum for a number of years.

Professor Stephen Garton

Stephen Garton (Sydney) talked on the illiberalism prevalent in early twentieth-century Australia, a time now seen when medicine particularly infected by ideology. Ultimately, however, liberal safeguards survive and all efforts at sterilization of mental defectives fail in Australia, and without a scientific consensus, politicians were reluctant to pass contentious legislation. Jane Carey (Wollongong) took a wide view of the issue of eugenics, arguing that race, class and gender are interlinked into eugenist discourses. Eugenics is often seen in terms of national historiography, but was a transnational discourse. Although for some it was about the “English race”, others took a different view, prepared for example, to “breed out colour” through intermarriage.

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Click to enlarge. From left, Caroline Daley, John Stenhouse, Hamish Spencer, Stephen Garton, Angela Wanhalla, Jane Carey, Diane Paul, Barbara Brookes, Erika Dyck, Charlotte Macdonald, Susanne Klausen, Rosi Crane.

Baby contests began first in the US in 1854, but soon spread to other countries, including New Zealand. Caroline Daley (Auckland) discussed how initially these shows attracted considerable opposition, but they also appealed to those with proto-eugenic sentiments as indicators as to the quality of the racial stock. Shows took on a more scientific edge, with doctors weighing and measuring the babies. However, Caroline cautioned at reading too much into the eugenist angle, as consumerism was often a motivation for these events, and they continued to be held after eugenics declined in popularity.

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Professor Emerita Diane Paul

Truby King is famous as a health reformer, both in terms of treatment of the mentally ill, and infants’ and children’s health, and as the founder of the Plunket Society that promoted his theory of mothercraft. Diane Paul (Massachusetts Boston) noted that more recently King (and the Plunket Society) have been labelled as eugenist.   While it is possible to find some eugenist ideas in his writing, King was also critical of eugenics at times,  believing that environmental factors, rather than hereditary, were more important, and how we classify King’s ideas really depends on how we define eugenics.

All the way from Canada, Professors Erika Dyck and Susanne Klausen

Susanne Klausen (Carleton) spoke first on the second day, looking at the impact of eugenist theories in South Africa that emerged in the late nineteenth century. One issue that troubled some in South Africa were the poor white Afrikaners, who migrated into the cities, living in slums together with black South Africans. Deemed as less intelligent than other whites, the Race Welfare Society tried to curb their high fertility rate. However, ultimately the eugenics movement in South Africa was relatively weak. In the face of large non-white populations, a white ethnic nationalism prevailed over biological imperatives, with poor white Afrikaners deemed salvageable in the interests of race unity.

Although eugenic discourses percolated through all of Canada, it was only in Western Canada that two provincial parliaments, in British Columbia and Alberta, passed laws legalizing sterilization of the mentally defective.   Erika Dyck (Saskatchewan) discussed the situation in Alberta, where most of the sterilizations took place, between 1928-73. It was agrarian feminists who initially pushed for sterilization, but the legislation was strengthened by the Social Credit government, who removed informed consent. More recently it has been claimed that the government targeted indigenous women, but historical evidence for this is lacking, with indigenous health care, run by federal authorities, in general being provided at the most minimal levels.

Charlotte Macdonald (VUW) looked at the history of eugenic discourse in New Zealand. The high point of New Zealand eugenics was the Mental Defectives Amendment Act in 1928, which established a Eugenics Board. “Experts” could be powerful, for example Dr Theodore Gray, the Head of the Mental Hospitals Department, who recommended the sterilization of the mentally unfit, which became Clause 25 in the 1928 Bill. But this legislation was not palatable to all, and was watered down in its final form. Charlotte also looked at the Healthy Body Movement that appeared in a number of the “white” colonies in the 1930s. Although there is an assumption that this reflected eugenist ideas, this was not actually the case, although the perception may have led to its eventual demise.

Angela Wanhalla (Otago) discussed how marriage was also a concern in the discussion leading up to New Zealand’s 1928 legislation. The initial bill included Clause 21 that would have prohibited the marriage of the mentally or socially defective. While some newspapers were broadly supportive, the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches opposed any state interference in the institution of marriage, and the Labour Party’s Peter Fraser led the fight against the worst aspects of the legislation in parliament. Eugenic discourse did influence divorce law, with insanity grounds to dissolve a marriage, although few used it due to the length of time required. New Zealand’s response was to segregate the mentally unfit rather than sterilization or marriage prohibition.

Professor Hamish Spencer

The last speaker, Hamish Spencer (Otago) also focused on the Mental Defectives legislation of 1928. The first Act, which distinguished between mental illness and defect, was passed in 1911. In 1924, a Committee of Inquiry convened to look into Mental Defectives and Sexual Offenders. A number of academics urged eugenic controls, such as the registration and sterilization of mentally defectives and immigration control, which the commission broadly agreed to. The 1928 legislation also came out of Dr Gray’s Report on Mental Deficiency, compiled after a world tour looking at how other countries dealt with the issue. As noted above, Peter Fraser was a vehement opponent of sterilization. Although the government had the support in parliament to pass this, it was not confident of wider public support and amended the original bill. But it was a very close thing.

All participants felt that this event was extremely productive.  Despite differences in how each country applied eugenist ideas, the discourse was transnational.  The organizers are now investigating publication options to get their research to a wider audience.

Waitangi Day Talk

Followers of the Centre may be interested in attending a forthcoming public talk to be given by Dr. Lachy Paterson on 6 February at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Lachy will be discussing changing views of the Treaty of Waitangi, since 1840 and up to the present day. He will also reflect upon the Treaty’s role in New Zealand society currently and in the future. The talk begins at 2pm. Read more about it here.

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New Publications

Congratulations to Tony Ballantyne and Barbara Brookes on the release of their newest books. Tony’s book, Entanglements of Empire, was released by Duke University Press in late December, with a New Zealand imprint published by Auckland University Press being released in April.

Entanglements

 

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In the past week, a collection of essays co-edited by Barbara Brookes with Canadian colleagues Tracy Penny Light and Wendy Mitchinson (both University of Waterloo), Bodily Subjects: Essays on Gender and Health, 1800-2000, was released by McGill-Queen’s University Press. The collection explores the historical entanglement between gender and health across two centuries and in a variety of locations through essays ranging from the nineteenth-century British Poor Laws, an Aboriginal reserve in 20th century Queensland, AIDS activists on the streets of Toronto in the 1990s.

 

Congratulations Barbara and Tony!

Family Emotional Economies & Disability at Birth

Last year, Professor Barbara Brookes (a CRoCC Steering Committee member), contributed a post to a History of Medicine Blog about the ‘complicated emotions surrounding disability at birth’. You can read the Blog post here. In it Barbara traces the emotional responses and experiences of families to disability in mid-twentieth century New Zealand through the dissertations of University of Otago fifth year medical school students in public health. At that time, the students were encouraged to study what was then described as “intellectually handicapped” children, and did so by going into the community and talking to families, but particularly mothers. The dissertations are a rich archive for social history, but are particularly revealing of attitudes to disability, from within and outside the family during the 1950s and 1960s.

Dunedin: New Zealand’s history capital?

Jock Phillips, an eminent historian in both academic and public domains has just annointed Dunedin as the powerhouse of NZ historical research and scholarship.  And this just days after Unesco named Dunedin a Creative City of Literature.  Jock, until recently the Ministry of Culture and Heritage’s General Editor of Te Ara: the Encyclopedia of New Zealand has suggested in his latest blogpost that “New Zealand history moves south”, citing examples of the academic strength of historians at the University of Otago, its public institutions, such as Toitū: Otago Settlers Museum, as well as citizen-driven initiatives.  Whatever aspect of history turns you on, Jock suggests that “Dunedin in 2015 is the place to be”.   Click here to read Jock’s blogpost.

MA Scholarship Available

Are you interested in pursuing an MA in Wellington? If so, you’re in luck. Professor Charlotte Macdonald (School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations) at Victoria University of Wellington has an MA scholarship available. It offers $16,000 + fees, on a project linked to her Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden-funded research: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Settler: Garrison and Empire in the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Applications close on 23 January. Click here to read the advertisement and find out more about the project.

 

Mobilities in a ‘Dangerous World’

Call for Papers

Sixth New Zealand Mobilities Symposium: Mobilities in a ‘Dangerous World’

25 and 26 June, 2015, University of Waikato

The contemporary world and its real and imagined ‘dangers’ offers us with a variety of challenging themes to explore in this Sixth New Zealand Mobilities Symposium, including sustainable mobilities, climate change and human mobility, mobility justice, historical mobilities in new perspective, the mobilities of disease and war, and mobilities and the borders of the nation state. We have conceptualised ‘danger’ as the risk and threats that mobility might pose in the contemporary world, such as climate change refugees, pandemic disease transmission via people and movement, among other aspects of perceived dangers in our shared mobile world. We are also inviting papers relating to various other topics, including sport, leisure, health and tourism mobilities; human and object transport and mobilities; refugee and migration, especially Pacific peoples; mobile media technologies; and moving methods.

We expect to conclude the conference with a panel focused on theorizing mobilities/moving methods. This conference places additional emphasis on capacity building for research among emerging researchers and postgraduate students in mobility studies. We are aiming to keep all sessions as plenary sessions, so spaces will be limited at the time of the selection of abstracts.

Keynote presenters will include

Dr Holly Thorpe (Sport and Leisure Studies, University of Waikato, and author of Transnational Mobilities in Action Sport Cultures, Palgrave 2014): ‘Youth and Sporting (Im)mobilities in Disrupted and Conflicted Spaces’.

Professor Mimi Sheller (Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Director, Center for Mobilities Research and Policy, Drexel University, Philadelphia): ‘Connected Mobility in a Disconnected World: Moving people, information and aid after disasters’. [Please note: Mimi Sheller will present a virtual keynote.]

Other invited speakers to be advised.

 

Abstracts due: Friday 6 March 2015. Please send a 250 word abstract and a 100 word biography to dangerousworldmobilities@gmail.com

Decisions on paper offers will be made by 1 April 2015.

We are hoping to offer student bursaries to support postgraduate students from beyond the Waikato to attend this conference. More information will be made available in April of 2015.

Contacts and organisers:

Professor Cathy Coleborne (History Programme, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences): cathyc@waikato.ac.nz

Dr Holly Thorpe (Sport and leisure Studies, Faculty of Education)                hthorpe@waikato.ac.nz

Dr Gail Adams (Geography Programme, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)         gaila@waikato.ac.nz

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