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Conventional New Zealand History Challenged

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Conventional New Zealand History Challenged

Despite the growing interest in New Zealand history there have been few genuine historiographical debates in this country. Post-social history, post-feminism, post-race relations, where is the study of New Zealand history now?

A new book brings together leading historians seeking 'to disrupt conventional readings of New Zealand history' in order to open up exploration and debate. Disputing Histories: Imagining New Zealand's Pasts is edited by Tony Ballantyne and Brian Moloughney from the University of Otago. Two threads run throughout the essays: the limits of national history, and the search for new archives and sites of enquiry.

In their essays, Atholl Anderson and Michael Reilly relocate Mäori history as part of a wider Pacific history. Anderson explores the deep history of the Pacific and peopling of New Zealand by examining the region's outlying islands as locations where movement to and from New Zealand can be traced. Reilly looks at 'rangatira', exploring the connections between the history of Mäori leadership and the political world of eastern Polynesia.

The history of intermarriage between Mäori and Päkehä in New Zealand has been neglected by New Zealand historians. Judith Binney's exploration of intermarriage enlarges the understanding of colonialism by using family life to reconstruct the struggles over land, power and community. David Thomson provides a different reading of family formation in colonial New Zealand, and argues that the settler family was essentially British.

Miles Fairburn notes there has been no real academic discussion about whether New Zealand's history is 'exceptional', and challenges assumptions that it is. He argues New Zealand's only claim to uniqueness is in the great impact of American, British and Australian cultural influences; New Zealand was the 'most globalised society in the world' by the mid twentieth century.
Bronwyn Dalley shows ways in which photographs reflect areas of life - such as clothing, hairstyles and ephemera - often ignored by historians. In other essays, Barbara Brookes examines debates over language in her exploration of the politics of gender in the 1970s, while Tony Ballantyne and Brian Moloughney examine the Asian influences on Murihiku in southern New Zealand.

Disputed Histories was occasioned by the retirement of Erik Olssen from the University of Otago and marks his contribution to the discipline of history in New Zealand. An interview with Olssen closes the book.

Atholl Anderson, Tony Ballantyne, Judith Binney, Barbara Brookes, Bronwyn Dalley,
Miles Fairburn, Brian Moloughney, Erik Olssen, Michael P.J. Reilly, David Thomson

Book Details
Disputed Histories: Imaging New Zealand's Pasts
Edited by Tony Ballantyne & Brian Moloughney
ISBN 1-877372-16-1. Paperback. RRP $49.95
Release Date: 21 April 2006
Tony Ballantyne is available for interviews.
Review copies are available.


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