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PhD students

J B B Brosnahan  BA, BA (Hons), MA (Otago)

The Long Shadow of the Shoah: A Multigenerational Study of Jewish Memory and Identity in New Zealand

This study will explore the impact of the Holocaust's legacy on the Jewish community in New Zealand across generations. By conducting new interviews and consulting existing oral testimonies it will investigate the long-term effects on survivors and their descendants, commemoration and memorialisation efforts, the prevalence of Holocaust denial and antisemitism in New Zealand, and the perspectives of recent Jewish migrants. The study will also examine the processes of constructing and preserving memories (individual and collective) and histories, and the role of political, religious, and other factors in shaping these processes. These issues have been extensively examined in international literature, but little attention has been given to them by historians in New Zealand. Ultimately, the study seeks to shed light on the interplay between history, memory, trauma, and identity, and to valuably contribute to our understanding of the Holocaust's legacy for New Zealand's Jewish community.

This research is funded by a University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship.


Supervisors: Professor Angela McCarthy and Professor Angela Wanhalla

Michelle Willyams, BA Hons I, BMus, MA with Distinction (Otago)

Exploring Mental Distress related to Childbirth in New Zealand, 1860 – 1980.

This doctorate explores the intersection of gender, disease and class through an examination of New Zealand women's experiences of mental distress related to childbirth. My project asks whether women in New Zealand have had similar or varied treatment between 1860 and up to 1980 and what factors eventually led medical and social spheres, by the 1980s, to accept 'Postnatal Depression' as the main diagnostic tool to identify and label symptoms of mental distress exhibited by some women after childbirth. A three-fold focus on the processes of defining the 'disease', the experiences of the patient once diagnosis was made,  and the often confused dialogues among the emerging medical professionals to construct and agree on the symptoms and treatment of women provides the framework to examine societal expectations of motherhood. Mental Asylum and Hospital records, Plunket, Department of Health publications and Preventive Medicine Dissertations inform this thesis, providing answers to how cases of mental distress related to childbirth were investigated, managed, and experienced in New Zealand, enlightening our understanding of the changing roles and experiences of New Zealand women between the nineteenth and twentieth century.

This research is funded by a University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship.


Supervisors: Associate Professor Frances Steel and Professor Rachael McLean


Steven R Talley (2024)

New Hebridean enterprise in its colonial context: Tongoa 1912, Tanna 1915, Malekula 1939

Hugh Bowron, PhD (2023)

St Peter's Caversham 1864-2000

Genzhong He, PhD (2023)

Translating biographies of George Washington: Imaging and constructing a modern nation-state in late Qing and early Republican China, 1840-1919

Paulien Martens, PhD (2022)

Founding Fathers: Fatherhood, family and aspiration in colonial Dunedin

Jeffrey Roger, MA (2022)

Navigating the Currents and Countercurrents of Southern New Zealand's Human/River Relationship: An Environmental History of Rivers in Otago and Southland, 1890–1920

Jack Brosnahan, MA (2022)

Robert Stout Revisited: The Ideas and Ideals of a Secular Puritan in New Zealand

Pauline Ireland-Kenny, MA (2022)

'The White Scourge': the milk supply to Dunedin and its suburbs, 1848–1900

Sarah Christie, PhD (2022)

Women and the New Zealand Office, 1945-1972: Keystrokes to a rewarding life?

Sebastian Hepburn-Roper, PhD (2022)

Firearms on the fringe of the empire: Māori and muskets in the New Zealand maritime world, 1805–1840

Claire Macindoe, PhD (2021)

The Radio Doctor: Broadcasting health into the home. Assessing New Zealand's changing public health needs through the talks of Dr H. B. Turbott, 1943–1984

Michelle Moffat, PhD (2021)

The Tartan Front: Daily Life in Scotland during the Second World War

Hannah Barlow, MA (2021)

More than a trickle, not yet a flood: Māori Employment and Urban Migration during World War Two

Rachel Tombs, MA (2021)

'The Most Vital Change': Feminist Activism and the Criminalisation of Marital rape in 1980s New Zealand

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