Traces of identity: the construction of white ethnicity in New Zealand.

Dyson, Lynda (2001) Traces of identity: the construction of white ethnicity in New Zealand. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

Settler colonies arose out of a form of European colonialism where a white collectivity was installed permanently on territory formerly occupied by non-European 'indigenous' peoples. In British colonies where white settlers formed the majority population - the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - the political, economic and cultural infrastructure has historically privileged whites over 'indigenous' groups. -In recent years territorial appropriations, which formed the basis of national wealth in these places, have been the focus of struggles for self-determination by 'first peoples'. This thesis focuses on the colonisation of New Zealand to show that although there were commonalities between white settler colonies, generally the historic specificity of nation building in each place, together with the way in which racial hierarchies were interpreted by colonialists, meant that national formations developed differently. New Zealand was the last of the 'dominions' to be settled and it became a commonplace that this was the most successful British colony in terms of racial harmony, largely because of a treaty made with the Maori. However recent reinterpretations of the nation's history have shown that while this treaty has functioned as a symbol of nationhood, notions of 'civility' which were brought to bear on the Maori people meant the terms of the treaty were never honoured. The thesis examines, through analyses of a variety of cultural artefacts, - from nineteenth century travel writing to contemporary cultural forms - films, television and museums -, the way ‘civilising discourses' underpinned a matrix of ethnic, gendered and class-based differences which legitimated the privilege of the settler majority. In recent years reinterpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi, and the severing of ties with Britain, have led to new forms of nationhood constructed around the ‘indigenisation' of the 'treaty partners' - Maori and Pakeha. Drawing on Cultural Studies approaches to representation and ethnicity, the thesis addresses issues which arise specifically from the way in which these shifts have challenged the hegemony of 'whiteness' in the colonial context.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Research Areas:School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
Theses
ID Code:6691
Deposited On:09 Nov 2010 13:28
Last Modified:23 Jul 2014 00:37

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