A History of New Zealand Women

Bridget Williams Books
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What would a history of New Zealand look like that rejected Thomas Carlyle’s definition of history as ‘the biography of great men’, and focused instead on the experiences of women? One that shifted the angle of vision and examined the stages of this country’s development from the points of view of wives, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and aunts? That considered their lives as distinct from (though often unwillingly influenced by) those of history’s ‘great men’?

In her ground-breaking History of New Zealand Women, Barbara Brookes provides just such a history. This is more than an account of women in New Zealand, from those who arrived on the first waka to the Grammy and Man Booker Prize-winning young women of the current decade. It is a comprehensive history of New Zealand seen through a female lens.

Brookes argues that while European men erected the political scaffolding to create a small nation, women created the infrastructure necessary for colonial society to succeed. Concepts of home, marriage and family brought by settler women, and integral to the developing state, transformed the lives of Māori women. The small scale of New Zealand society facilitated rapid change so that, by the twenty-first century, women are no longer defined by family contexts.

In her long-awaited book, Barbara Brookes traces the factors that drove that change. Her lively narrative draws on a wide variety of sources to map the importance in women’s lives not just of legal and economic changes, but of smaller joys, such as the arrival of a piano from England, or the freedom of riding a bicycle.
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About the author

Barbara Brookes is a Professor of History at the University of Otago whose research, writing and teaching have contributed significantly to new perspectives on women’s history. She has explored a range of topics in imaginative ways, often in collaboration with scholars from different disciplines. Consistently, however, she has placed women at the centre of her research, and A History of New Zealand Women draws together many threads from some three decades of scholarly investigation.

Publishing both internationally and in New Zealand, she has co-edited several books on women’s history and on health. These include: Bodily Subjects: Essays on Gender and Health, 1800–2000 (2014), with Tracy Penny Light and Wendy Mitchinson; Rethinking the Racial Moment: Essays on the Colonial Encounter (2011), with Alison Holland; Sites of Gender: Women, Men and Modernity in Southern Dunedin, 1890–1939 (2003), with Annabel Cooper and Robin Law; and two volumes on Women in History (1986, 1992), with Charlotte Macdonald and Margaret Tennant. Her work has also appeared widely in journals and in edited collections.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Bridget Williams Books
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Published on
Feb 15, 2016
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Pages
554
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ISBN
9780908321469
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Australia & New Zealand
Social Science / Women's Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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From the nineteenth-century British Poor Laws, to an early twentieth-century Aboriginal reserve in Queensland Australia, to AIDS activists on the streets of Toronto in the 1990s, Bodily Subjects explores the historical entanglement between gender and health to expose how ideas of health - a concept whose meanings we too often assume to understand - are embedded in assumptions about femininity and masculinity. These essays expand the conversation on health and gender by examining their intersection in different geo-political contexts and times. Constantly measured through ideals and judged by those in authority, healthy development has been construed differently for teenage girls, adult men and women, postpartum mothers, and those seeking cosmetic surgery. Over time, meanings of health have expanded from an able body signifying health in the nineteenth century to concepts of "well-being," a psychological and moral interpretation, which has dominated health discourse in Western countries since the late twentieth century. Through examinations of particular times and places, across two centuries and three continents, Bodily Subjects highlights the ways in which the body is both subjectively experienced and becomes a subject of inquiry. Contributors include Barbara Brookes (University of Otago), Brigitte Fuchs (University of Vienna), Catherine Gidney (St Thomas University), Mona Gleason (University of British Columbia), Natalie Gravelle (York University), Rebecca Godderis (Wilfrid Laurier University), Antje Kampf (Humboldt University of Berlin), Marjorie Levine-Clark (University of Denver), Wendy Mitchinson (University of Waterloo), Meg Parsons (University of Auckland), Tracy Penny Light (University of Waterloo), Patricia A. Reeve (Suffolk University), Anika Stafford (Simon Fraser University), and Thomas Wendelboe (University of Waterloo).
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