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Further accolades for Professor Barbara Brookes

Thursday 18 October 2018 4:42pm

Professor Barbara Brookes at the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

Department of History and Art History Professor Barbara Brookes MNZM has added further accolades to a recent run of success by this week receiving the Royal Society Te Apārangi’s Humanities Aronui Medal for her outstanding contribution to humanities scholarship.

In the 2018 New Year Honours, Professor Brookes was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to historical research and women.

Late last year her book A History of New Zealand Women won the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Award in the Illustrated Non-Fiction category.

In awarding the medal, the Royal Society said that Professor Brookes' scholarship has “consistently been of the highest quality and she has inspired students with her zest for history and shown remarkable generosity as a colleague, mentor and teacher.”

Professor Brookes said that receiving the award as the country celebrated 125 years’ since women gained voting rights gave it extra significance.

In her acceptance speech she also paid tribute to her "intellectual home, the University of Otago, and the archivists, librarians, publishers, friends and family who have supported [her] endeavours."

"All of our disciplines are at heart historical - we build on the insights that have gone before. And we are driven by a shared curiosity - in my case it began with inquiry into the hidden history of backstreet abortion as an Honours student at Otago in 1976." 

"I wanted to know how the need to control fertility impacted on women’s lives in the past. I see this honour as a celebration of good history and the work of all of those who have sought to enlarge our understandings of Aotearoa New Zealand."

brookes alumn 226
Professor Brookes speaking about her work at an Otago alumni event in Washington in 2016.

About: Professor Brookes is an authority in the history of women, medical history and New Zealand history.

Her debut book Abortion in England, 1900-1967 (published in 1988) marked the launch of a new field of enquiry: the social history of abortion.

She has produced numerous edited volumes and journal articles that provide historical perspectives on current health debates, reshaping the scholarly landscape in medical history with a new focus on gender and health, and her work has often drawn attention to the complications wrought by the different histories of Indigenous and settler women.

A History of New Zealand Women, published by Bridget Williams Books was the first history of its kind. In examines the changing lives of both Māori and Pākehā women from the pre-contact period to 2015, thereby examining the intersection of gender and race as well as the dynamic relationship between the personal and the political.

She has been invited to deliver prestigious lectures such as the Keith Sinclair Lecture at the University of Auckland, a keynote address at the Canadian Historical Association Conference and a Sawyer Lecture at the University of Sydney. Her far-reaching contributions to the history of women were celebrated at the ‘Making Women Visible’ conference held in her honour at the University of Otago in 2016.