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Reinventing the Nation: British Heritage and the Bicultural Settlement in New Zealand

Dyson, Lynda (2005) Reinventing the Nation: British Heritage and the Bicultural Settlement in New Zealand. In: The Politics of Heritage; The Legacy of 'Race'. Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, pp. 115-130. ISBN 0415322111

Type of Research: Book Section
Creators: Dyson, Lynda

‘The Politics of Heritage’ begins with a landmark article by the British cultural theorist and historian Stuart Hall, in which a new conceptual terrain of the ‘post-nation’ is mapped out. The post-nation is configured in a number of distinct dimensions with a key responsibility being attributed to the conjunction of heritage and ‘race’.

The researcher’s contribution to this collected volume explores the historical movement within New Zealand from the pre-colonial world in which the Maori had no single term to define themselves through the iniquities of colonialism to the emergence of a ‘bicultural’ notion of nationhood, where Maori and Pakeha (the non-Maori, ‘white’ ethnicities) are rhetorically addressed as ‘partners’. In keeping with the insights developed in Hall’s introduction the researcher analyses the role of the new heritage site of the Te Papa Tongarewa museum in New Zealand’s capital of Wellington.

The researcher unpacks the complexities of museum’s attempts to mobilise its exhibits in a negotiation of the new nationhood – or Hall’s post-nationhood. The Pakeha (= white) settlers are presented in the museum through collections of objects tracing migration. The function of these objects, argues the researcher, is to reposition the settlers as a group defined by diversity and plurality (no longer the monocultural white majority of previous, anti-colonial discourse) and to further identify the settlers as themselves embroiled in histories of oppression, loss and displacement. The researcher contrasts the sensitivity and alertness to the individual significance of objects in Te Papa Tongarewa with the ‘ethnological’ approach to the selection and presentation of Maori objects that was undertaken in more traditional museum and heritage spaces.

The chapter is able to draw upon private, anonymised interviews conducted by the researcher to reveal that curators experience misgivings about how the past (and consequently the present) of New Zealand is being reconciled.

Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: heritage management, cultural studies, material culture, postcolonialism
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Communication
Research Centres/Networks > Transnational Art Identity and Nation (TrAIN)
Date: 2005
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2009 12:29
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2012 15:02
Item ID: 1279
URI: http://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1279

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