Imaging and Imagining the Waikato: A Spatial History c.1800-c.1914
Dench, S. J. (2018). Imaging and Imagining the Waikato: A Spatial History c.1800-c.1914 (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11856
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11856
This thesis reframes the history of the Waikato from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries through a spatial history approach using a visual archive. I argue that Pākehā images of the Waikato were both contemporary records and instruments of colonisation in the region, and that the discursive power of these images is undiminished. In this thesis I focus on spatial occasions represented by maps and photographs in order to reframe the history of colonisation in the Waikato. First, I move visual sources of historical evidence, specifically maps and photographs, from the periphery to the centre of the frame. An exploration of the historical context of the selected maps and photographs serves as the narrative framework for the thesis in a strategy that replaces the more usual method of choosing images to illustrate a text that has already been written. This theoretical and methodological framework for what I consider to be a richer and more satisfying use of visual evidence in history is a key feature of this thesis. Second, I employ a colonisation lens to emphasise the negative consequences of colonisation for the indigenous people and landscapes, as well as the diverse and far from unproblematic experiences of the colonists themselves. This thesis positions three phases of Pākehā colonisation: Reconnaissance, Invasion and Occupation. These overtly militaristic labels apply to real military actions as well as to less obvious but longer-lasting and wider-spread discursive strategies of incursion and control. While this thesis emphasises the negative impacts of colonisation, this is a history from the colonisers’ point of view. The images that form the focus of the thesis were created by Pākehā in the service of Pākehā intentions, actions and identities. But, rather than serving to justify or excuse colonisation as an end that justified the means, I undermine the inevitability inherent in the traditional settlement narrative. I do this by highlighting the ambiguities and contradictions of the colonisers’ intentions and experiences through a close and contextualised reading of the images they made to record and represent themselves. In the process, I refute the legitimacy and validity of Pākehā claims to control Waikato spaces.
The University of Waikato
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