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Strong tradition of research in Aotearoa New Zealand, the Pacific and globally

Research in the Division of Humanities helps us make sense of ourselves and our communities so that we may better understand our place in a rapidly changing world.

Our staff have a strong tradition of theoretical and field-based research in Aotearoa New Zealand, the Pacific and globally.

Some of these areas include: understanding the social history of the overseas Chinese community living in Lawrence during the Otago gold rush; climate change migration, adaptation, and New Zealand's role in the Pacific; wānanga (immersion practicums) for Māori language and culture; cultural transformation in the performing arts as a result of migration.

Every year the Division is also host to the Otago Arts Fellows. Another way of helping to support the material and intellectual health and wellbeing of our wider communities.

Access to unique resources and collections

Researchers in Humanities have access to:

  • Hocken Collections
    One of New Zealand's foremost research libraries that contains many rare historical publications of national and international significance.
  • Digital Humanities Hub
    A space to study digital technologies along with the art and culture they cultivate.
  • Archaeological laboratories
    These include extensive reference material collections and a spatial analysis lab with Geological Information System (GIS) facilities.
  • Performing Arts centre
    State-of-the-art multi-use recording and performance spaces.

Research centres, themes and networks

Research in the Division of Humanities is inclusive and collaborative, as evidenced by the range of areas covered in our research centres, themes and networks.

Some of our recent research questions

Our research considers a wide range of topics. Here are a few examples:

  • how does performance add to understandings of our ecological future
  • what are the impacts of World War Two on the Māori Home Front during and after this conflict
  • what role does pastoral farming play in the colonisation of Aotearoa New Zealand
  • what are the health and environmental benefits of walking and cycling for Otago's secondary school pupils
  • how can we recalibrate New Zealand's state legal system in order to challenge the Crown's assumption of sovereignty over lands and waters treasured by Māori

Our research centres, themes and networks

Current research news stories

Otago's Humanities research output is rated the best in New Zealand in a number of disciplines

Recent research quality evaluations rate the Division of Humanities research output to be the best in New Zealand in a number of disciplines, and rank some of our subjects among the top 50 internationally.

The 2022 QS World University Rankings by Subject showed the following Humanities subject at Otago to be rated in the top 50 in the world: Archaeology (47=).

The following subjects ranked in the top 100 in the world: Anthropology, Development Studies, and Religious Studies and Theology.

Education, English Language & Literature, Geography, History, Philosophy, Social Policy & Administration featured in the top 101–150 in the world.

Postgraduate research opportunities database

A new tool is available to assist postgraduates to search for research opportunities in Humanities.

If you have an opportunity to list, register it via our online form.

Find a postgraduate research opportunity

Exceptional doctoral theses

Details about exceptional doctoral theses produced by students in the Division of Humanities

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Paola Voci thumb

"I'm interested in the type of dissent that these forms of visual culture can produce and how they can contribute to create a more open society."
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Tawini White thumbnail

Tawini White is studying regional language variations for her Master's degree.
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Charles Boulton thumbnail

Uni doesn't always need to be about training for a specific job or future, it can also be about learning to think critically in a range of ways.
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Matthew Stephen thumbnail

I accepted the invitation to the honours programme believing that Politics offered me the best chances to extend my intellectual horizons while also keeping a toe in the door of employability.
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Sociology and the humanities are important subjects because they teach you about ethics.
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Will Sweetman Thumb

"I'm keen to explore how we, as Westerners, understand people from another culture."
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Can Cinar Thumbnail

“Credit rating agencies – those financial institutions that rate financial security for  countries, governments, companies and individuals  –  have huge power, and that's what I'm really interested in."
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Mary Foley thumbnail

Otago Law Faculty was the obvious choice, its reputation for collegiality and academic excellence being well founded.
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Abby Suszko thumbnail

I used the Foreshore and Seabed Debate as a case study to unearth the equality and rights arguments that New Zealanders employ…
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Terri Caulcutt thumbnail

“This programme allows social workers to undertake further studies with a distinctly social work emphasis”
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