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Three new Professors for Division of Humanities

Tuesday 10 December 2019 9:17am

Three Division of Humanities academics are among thirty University of Otago staff to be promoted to the position of professor today.

Associate Professors Jacob Edmond (English and Linguistics), Colin Gavaghan (Faculty of Law) and Will Sweetman (Religion) will be Professors from 1 February 2020. 

Making the announcement today, Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne said the promotion to Professor recognised the hard work, skill and dedication of a wide range of Otago academics.

“The depth and breadth of research expertise, leadership, and commitment to their work demonstrated by these staff is highlighted with their promotion. It’s a pleasure to see the success of academics from a wide range of departments and research areas, and from across our campuses in Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington.

"I look forward to following with interest their teaching, research and service achievements in the future,” Professor Hayne says.

Otago’s promotion process involves thorough evaluation of each individual’s record of contributions to research, teaching, and service to the University and community. It also involves input from international experts in evaluating the candidates’ research contributions.

A further 42 Otago academics were promoted to Associate Professor.

Jacob Edmond
English and Linguistics Programme

Jacob makes sense of our rapidly changing world by exploring literary and artistic responses to global shifts in media, culture, economics, and geopolitics. His first book, A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature (Fordham University Press), explores how poets responded to the upheavals wrought by the end of the Cold War.

Edmond 2017
Associate Professor Jacob Edmond

His second book, Make It the Same: Poetry in the Age of Global Media (Columbia University Press), examines literary and artistic works that address the proliferating copies of online media and the replication enabled by globalisation. His new Marsden project draws on literary and artistic responses to the news media to ask why our instant access to news from around the world brings not global understanding but paralysing confusion. By closely engaging with texts in Chinese, Russian and English, all his work addresses the global trends and linguistic and cultural differences that shape our contemporary world.

Colin Gavaghan
Faculty of Law

Colin is the inaugural director of the New Zealand Law Foundation Centre for Law and Emerging Technologies, and co-director of the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Public Policy.

Associate Professor Colin Gavaghan

His principal research interests include legal and ethical aspects of reproductive and genetic technologies, end of life issues and other medico-legal matters. He is the author of Defending the Genetic Supermarket (Routledge 2007) and of dozens of peer-reviewed articles and chapters.

Together with colleagues in Computer Science and Philosophy, he is the leader of a three-year project exploring the legal, ethical and social implications of artificial intelligence for New Zealand. He is deputy chair of the Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology. He has advised the New Zealand Government at the D5 Ministerial Summit (2018), been an expert witness in the High Court case of Seales v Attorney General (2015), and advised Members of Parliament on draft legislation.

Will Sweetman
Religion Programme

Will is a historian who works on South India in the early modern period. Once the Portuguese opened the sea route to India at the end of the 15th century, European knowledge of Indian society and culture was advanced by a stream of letters and books written by travelers, missionaries, merchants, soldiers and colonial officials.

Will Sweetman
Associate Professor Will Sweetman

Will’s work examines both the sources of their knowledge of India and the use their works were put to in debates among scholars in Europe in the period leading up to the Enlightenment. He has a particular interest in Indian religion, and how Europeans put what they knew of Hinduism and Buddhism to use in polemics between Catholics, Protestants, deists, atheists and freethinkers in Europe. His recent work has examined European collections of Indian manuscripts—especially the Vedas, India’s oldest sacred text. He is currently writing a book on the devadasis, the Indian temple dancers who have fascinated Europeans since Marco Polo visited India on his way back from China.

Division of Humanities staff promoted to Associate Professor:

Melanie Beres (Sociology, Gender Studies and Criminology Programme); Marcelle Dawson (Sociology, Gender Studies and Criminology Programme); Emily Keddell (Social and Community Work Programme); Zach Weber (Philosophy Programme).