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Humanities Research at Otago

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.

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Access to unique resources and collections

Researchers in Humanities have access to:

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

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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 2020 QS World University Rankings by Subject showed the following Humanities subject at Otago to be rated in the top 50 in the world: Classics (47).

The following subjects ranked in the top 100 in the world: Anthropology, Archaeology, Development Studies, Education, Geography, Performing Arts, Philosophy and Theology. English Language & Literature, Geography, History and Law featured in the top 101–150 in the world.

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Exceptional doctoral theses

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