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Postgraduate Research in History and Art History




Art History & Visual Culture



Art History & Visual Culture


History PhD


Rosemary Anderson BA (Hons), MA (Otago)

Wind and shifting sand: The changing face of the Chatham Islands, 1840 -1940

Throughout the nineteenth century, the indigenous Moriori of the Chatham Islands were colonised by incomers of diverse nationalistic and cultural backgrounds, including sealers and whalers, New Zealand Māori, German missionaries, government officials and British settlers, genteel and otherwise. A dependency of New Zealand since 1842, this thesis asks how this intermixture altered identities and forms of community in this colonial site. Taking account of the effects of long-term isolation in a dynamic natural environment, it traces the islander’s transitional path toward a self-conscious localism, and examines the emergence of an implied sense of separate and distinctive identity. This thesis also positions the group within broader Pacific and global narratives, by investigating webs of interdependence and exchange connecting the Chatham Islands with the wider world from 1840 to 1940, and defining their place within a larger, interconnected maritime world. This project is funded by a University of Otago Postgraduate Scholarship.

Supervisors:  Associate Professor Angela Wanhalla, Dr Michael Stevens, and Professor Tony Ballantyne


Hugh Bowron BA (Cant), MA (Cant), Dip Theol (Leeds), MTheol (Otago)

The Parish History of St Peter’s Caversham as an extension of the Caversham Project.

The thesis intends to extend and develop the Caversham project by using one enduring institution in the suburb’s life as a mine shaft to further explore the shape and contour of life in South Dunedin over the passage of time. A key theme will be an examination of why a particular form Anglican exotique known as Anglo-Catholicism took root in New Zealand’s first advanced industrial suburb, and how this style of Anglican identity became a defining characteristic of the parish. Its origins, contents and effects on parish life will be accounted for. The thesis will also explore the relationship of this particular Dunedin Anglican parish to its diocese and its city. It aspires to lift the writing of parish histories to a new level above the high standard set by Dr Marie Peters of the Canterbury history department with her 1986 Christchurch – St Michaels: A Study in Anglicanism in New Zealand.

Supervisors: Associate Professor John Stenhouse and Associate Professor Alex Trapeznik



Sarah Christie BA (Hons), MA (Canterbury)

Women and Work: Clerical Workers and Gender Change in Post-War New Zealand, 1945-1972

This thesis seeks to add to the knowledge of both labour history and women’s history within New Zealand through an investigation of women’s working lives in the post-war period. The thirty years following World War II saw a number of significant changes in New Zealand women’s relationships with the labour market. This research will use the example of clerical workers to uncover how women experienced these changes and the ways in which change both drew from, and impacted on, gender roles in New Zealand. This dissertation project has received funding from the New Horizons for Women Trust’s Ria McBride Research Award.


Supervisors: Professor Barbara Brookes and Associate Professor Mark Seymour


Patrick Coleman BA (Hons), MA (Cant), DipTESOL (Trinity)

Loyalism, Fraternalism and Religious Dissent: New Zealand Orangeism, 1840-2000

Orangeism is an Irish founded semi-secret fraternal society that spread throughout the British Empire in the early to mid-19th century. Its mixture of militant Reformation style Protestantism and fierce loyalty to the British Crown drew like-minded members from a wide range of Christian denominations and ethnic backgrounds. This dissertation will make use of public and private archival holdings of annual proceedings, minute books, including material culture such as banners, regalia, certificates to determine for New Zealand Orangeism factors contributing to its spread and decline; migration patterns and ethnic composition; sectarian involvement; material culture; role of women; extent of transnationalism and networking with worldwide Orangeism.


Supervisors: Professor Angela McCarthy and Dr Vanessa Ward

Violetta Gilabert BA Spanish & History, BA (Hons) History

Labours of Love? Marriage and Emotion in Aotearoa/New Zealand, 1920-1970

This project explores the convergence of gender, race, and emotion in New Zealand marriages. It asks how Māori and Pākehā societies produced and upheld monogamous, heterosexual unions, and how resulting emotional cultures merged and diverged from each other throughout the long twentieth century. It contends that notions of selfhood, consumption, production, leisure, narrativity, and identity were heavily implicated in twentieth-century constructions of marriage, though husbands and wives, Māori and Pākehā, responded to them differently. Meanwhile, journals, letters, and autobiographies inform a reconstruction of long-term cohabitation, monogamy, and family formation at an experiential level—revealing how husbands and wives variously conceived and expressed their feelings to and for each other. This project has received funding from the Royal Society of New Zealand's Rutherford Discovery Fellowship.


Supervisors: Associate Professor Mark Seymour & Associate Professor Angela Wanhalla


Chao Guo BA (Beijing Normal University), MA (Beijing Normal University)

Aesthetic, Body and Gender: Male Dan in Chinese Theatre

This research focuses on male dan, a type of male impersonator of women in traditional Chinese theatre. Since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), male dan has shaped the aesthetic criteria and acting style of the "dan" role. However, with the modernisation of China since the early 20th century, male dan, as well as traditional Chinese theatre, was dismissed as a vestige of the moribund feudal China. Due to constant political intervention, male dan had its worst situation in the Cultural Revolution and was once at the brink of extinction. Nevertheless, in the "Global Village" of the modern era, male dan becomes a universal interest. It obscures the boundaries between men and women, tradition and modernity, east and west, refined culture and folk culture, etc. Thus, this research is not merely framed within art historiography, but also current trends of theatre and gender studies, including psychoanalysis, feminist and queer theories.

Supervisors: Professor Brian Moloughney and Professor Stuart Young (Theatre Studies)



Dorothy McMenamin BA (Hons) (University of Canterbury), MA (University of Canterbury)

The everyday lives of Anglo Indians in Pakistan

My research identifies the everyday lives of Anglo Indians who are, or were, resident in Pakistan following creation of the new state at the end of British rule in India. The project raises questions about identity, social status of mixed race groups, citizenship, nationality and examines the interactions of Christians living amongst predominantly Muslim and Hindu populations. My past research has investigated the lives of Anglo Indians who were resident in British India, and oral histories of these interviewees are archived at Macmillan Brown Library, Christchurch. These, together with new oral histories recorded under the auspices of this project with Anglo Indians resident in New Zealand, Australia, England and Pakistan are the primary sources for my research. These sources make a significant addition to the colonial archive.

I am grateful to the University of Otago for a scholarship for this research.


Supervisors: Professor Tony Ballantyne and Dr Michael Stevens 


Steven R Talley BA (magna cum laude) (Princeton), Diploma for Graduates (Otago), MA (with distinction) (Otago)

Coconuts as Catalyst: The Historical Impact of Coconut Commodification on a New Hebridean Community

My research will investigate how the commodification of coconuts (the copra trade) affected the social structures and relations of a Vanuatu indigenous community during the Condominium of the New Hebrides (1906-1980). If one thinks of coconut commodification as a stone (or a coconut) metaphorically dropped into the middle of a particular society, as into a pond, how did that impact alter social relations as it rippled through the local economy? How did it “make history,” in the sense that it was the catalyst for social change and innovation that otherwise might not have happened?

Supervisors: Professor Judith Bennett and Associate Professor John Stenhouse


Art History & Visual Culture PhD  


Bridie Lonie PGDipArts, MA (Otago)

Closer Relations: Artists, Climate Change and Interdisciplinarity

This thesis examines the ways that climate change has impacted on contemporary art practices since the year 2000. It discusses artists working on climate change who may have entered this subject matter through a prior interest in notions of nature, community, political activism, or other related fields. It considers the ways that newer as well as more familiar artforms may have adapted subject matter, media or approach as they engage with the data and consequences of climate change and in doing so form new interdisciplinary engagements.

Supervisors: Associate Professor Erika Wolf and Dr Cecilia Novero (Languages & Cultures)

Radhika Raghav BA (University of Delhi), MA (National Museum Institute, Delhi)

The Iconography of Celebrity: Photography, Cinema, Nationalism and the Female Star in India (1840-1960)

This project seeks to illuminate the codes and conventions used to define and represent celebrity within Indian culture by examining the iconography associated with female stars, in particular their photographic images as these are circulated in extra-cinematic material. The project hypothesizes that these star images offered models for a new urban woman who emerges in the 1930s in which modernity and a growing nationalist movement were significant influences. By asserting her independence and identity outside of marriage and the family, the successful star constituted a challenge to a traditionally patriarchal social order, suggesting the ways in which colonial culture offered new opportunities to some women, in the context of an otherwise oppressive and exploitative political regime. As such this project contributes to an understanding of mass media, gender and nationalism in the construction of celebrity beyond Hollywood.


Supervisors: Professor Hilary Radner and Dr Gautam Ghosh (Anthropology)

Franky Strachan BA (Hons) (Otago)

Veneers and Façades: A Re-evaluation of the Status and Meaning of Napier’s Art Deco Phenomenon.

There is an assumption that Napier’s Art Deco architecture stands as a living memorial to, and celebration of, local history with its architectural significance extending internationally. But how does the intrinsic value of the buildings compare with their inherited value, and where does this place Napier in terms of the world’s Art Deco collection? This thesis re-evaluates the status and meaning of the local Art Deco phenomenon from a visual cultural perspective by focusing on the processes associated with the production, reproduction and contextualization of space, time and identity in the represented world.


Supervisors: Associate Professor Erika Wolf and Professor Tom Brooking


History MA

David Haines BA (Hons), LLB (Otago)

Ngai Tahu and Shore Whaling on Banks Peninsula

This project examines Ngai Tahu interaction with the shore whaling industry on Banks Peninsula, circa 1837-1875. It examines chiefly engagement with colonial merchants, the role of individual men and women on shore stations, and the lasting impacts of whaling in Canterbury, including for the descendants.

Peita Ferens-Green BA (Hons) (Otago)

“The Southern World’s my Home!” A Biography of Thomas Ferens

This thesis will act as a biographical examination of my ancestor Thomas Ferens, in a bid to demonstrate how he navigated his occupational life and how he understood his sense of ‘self’ in the early Otago settlement. This research will draw heavily upon his personal testimony, in the form of letters and diaries, to provide a well-developed sense of his character and what thoughts and feelings he held during a period of great change in Otago. The primary areas of focus for this thesis include that of preaching to Maori, the difficulties of run-holding and Ferens’ involvement in local politics. By focussing upon Ferens’ occupational life I hope to determine changes and continuities in his relationships to home, family and core values.


Supervisors: Professor Angela McCarthy and Associate Professor John Stenhouse


Art History & Visual Culture MA

Sam Stevens BA (Hons) Diploma of Teaching (Otago)

A study of the aesthetics of light and light theories in the Middle Ages and its impact on the development of the Gothic style and selected art works.

The aim of this thesis is to discuss the importance of light to the Medieval aesthetic and art forms. The development of theological and scientific theories of light in the Middle Ages will first be considered by analysing the theological works of the Pseudo Dionysus and Medieval theorists such as St. Thomas Aquinas and the scientific works of Pecham, Grosseteste and Bacon.
The second part will look to show the theological and scientific aspects of light theories in practise from selected art works of the Middle Ages. The development of the Gothic style and the great cathedrals and their use of stained glass will form the basis for this discussion. The architectural program of Abbot Suger (Saint Denis), Chartres and Lincoln Cathedrals, and King Louis’ Sainte Chapelle will be some of the examples of art work used.

Supervisors: Dr Judith Collard and Professor Takashi Shogimen