Saturday, 25 October 2014

Seminar: American Empire: An Alternative History presented by Professor Antony Hopkins

Date: 7 November 2014 Time: 12.10 pm
Venue: Murphy Lecture Theatre 101 (MY101), Victoria University of Wellington

The History Programme is pleased to host Professor Antony Hopkins, who will speak on his forthcoming study American Empire: An Alternative History.

American Empire: An Alternative History seeks to rethink the United States and empire in an international setting, using the UK  as the prime comparator. Conventional wisdom suggests that ‘empire’ applies to the United States before 1783 and after 1945.

Professor Hopkins suggests, instead, that the decades between require reconsideration.

While in 1783 the USA achieved formal independence, what followed was a long struggle to secure real sovereignty, during which the US remained heavily dependent on the UK. The conventional narrative of the pioneering nation and its progress towards liberty and democracy can be seen instead as an increasingly fraught search for development and viability. In this understanding, the US is  the first major decolonised  state and, as such, the forerunner of many others that were to follow. The experiment in nation-building failed in 1861, and the new endeavour after 1865 sought to shape a new union. The effort succeeded: 1898 was an expression and celebration of unity achieved that also won the US recognition as a world power.

Although 1898 delivered an overseas territorial empire, the history of  that empire has been almost totally neglected. Reconstructing the  history of the 'real' US Empire provides a test of US exceptionalism, enables the US experience to be compared to that of  the other territorial empires, and presents unused precedents for  present-day commentators to refer to when they advise policy-makers  about the 'lessons of history.' This empire ended in the 1950s, when  the European empires also came to an end. What followed was not an American 'empire' but an attempt to create US hegemony in  greatly changed circumstances. The attempt was of relatively short duration and of limited success.

Professor A. G. Hopkins is a world-renowned economic historian of the British Empire and Africa, as well as a pioneer in the history of globalisation and global history. He is Emeritus Professor at Pembroke College Cambridge, and was previously the Walter Prescott Webb Professor of History and Ideas at the University of Texas in Austin and the Smuts Professor of Commonwealth History at the University of Cambridge. Perhaps the best-known of his works is British Imperialism 1688-2000 (with P.J. Cain). He has also published extensively on globalization and world history.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Beyond the Imperial Frontier Book Launch

Thanks to all those who attended the launch last night. It was a great occasion. Here are a few photos of the evening.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Upcoming BWB Events


Over the next six weeks, BWB has a range of events taking place around New Zealand:

Wednesday 24 September, Wellington

Book launch: Vincent O'Malley's Beyond the Imperial Frontier
5.30 pm, Vic Books, 1 Kelburn Parade, Wellington.

The launch will follow Vincent's JD Stout Lecture: The Waikato War: Myth, History and the ‘Art of Forgetting’, 4.10 p.m., Wednesday 24 September, McLaurin Lecture Theatre 103.

Monday 6 October, Auckland

Kirsty Gunn and Martin Edmond discussing their BWB Texts with Tom Rennie.
5.30pm, Auckland Central City Library.

Wednesday 8 October, Wellington

Kirsty Gunn's lunchtime walking tour of Thorndon. Starting at the Randell Cottage at 12.30pm, the tour winds its way across Thorndon to the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace.

In the evening, Kirsty Gunn discusses Thorndon with Charles Ferrall and Anna Jackson.
5.30pm, Tiakiwai Conference Centre, National Library of New Zealand.

Thursday 9 October, Wellington

Kirsty Gunn and Martin Edmond, in conversation with Tom Rennie.
6.00pm, Unity Books Wellington.

Saturday 11 October, Wanaka

11.30am – Max Rashbrooke: Inequality – the growing gap between rich and poor
1.30pm – Kirsty Gunn: Telling Stories
Aspiring Conversations Festival, Lake Wanaka Centre 

Sunday 12 OctoberWanaka

1.30pm –  Kirsty Gunn: Where is Home?
Aspiring Conversations Festival, Lake Wanaka Centre 

Monday 13 October, Dunedin

Kirsty Gunn in conversation with Vincent O’Sullivan
5.30pm, Dunedin Public Library.

Thursday 23 October, Wellington

A panel, chaired by Bernard Hickey, discussing Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century and its relevance for New Zealand. 
5.30pm, Royal Society of New Zealand - more details to come in our next newsletter.

All of the events (excluding Aspiring Conversations) are free, open to the public and don't require an RSVP - please join us!
For more information on all BWB books, e-books and events, see or contact us at



Monday, 22 September 2014

Devastating Impact of the Waikato War Revisited

22 September 2014

Devastating impact of the Waikato War revisited by leading historian 

At a time of great focus on World War One, a new book by prominent historian Dr Vincent O’Malley draws startling comparisons with the Waikato War of 1863–64. Taking a new approach to analysing evidence on the war, O’Malley’s book challenges previous assumptions made about casualties suffered by the Waikato tribes.

‘This new approach to estimating casualty figures suggests that the scale of the losses suffered by the Waikato tribes was much greater than previously thought,’ says O’Malley. ‘Indeed there is every indication that the numbers killed and wounded may have exceeded those sustained by New Zealand troops during World War One in per capita terms.’

‘These estimates can, of course, be debated but it is clear from Census data that overall Māori losses in the Waikato War were horrendous.’

O’Malley’s essay on the Waikato War is one of thirteen featured in Beyond the Imperial Frontier, published by Bridget Williams Books, which reflect on early encounters between Māori and Pākehā, giving an insight into the different ways the two ‘fronted’ one another across the nineteenth century.

Beyond the Imperial Frontier: The Contest for Colonial New Zealand will be launched by Bridget Williams Books on 24 September 2014 at Victoria University. Prior to the launch Dr O’Malley will deliver a lecture on ‘The Waikato War: Myth, History and the “Art of Forgetting”’. O’Malley is continuing his research into the Waikato War and this will result in a major new publication with Bridget Williams Books in 2015.

5.30pm, Wednesday 24 September
Vic Books, Victoria University
1 Kelburn Parade, Wellington

JD Stout Lecture:
‘The Waikato War: Myth, History and the “Art of Forgetting”’
4.10pm, Wednesday 24 September
McLaurin Lecture Theatre 103, Victoria University

Publication: 24 September
RRP: $49.99 (print)
RRP: $20.00 (e-book)



Monday, 15 September 2014

J D Stout Lecture 2014: The Waikato War: Myth, History and the 'Art of Forgetting'

The JD Stout Lecture 2014

Vincent O’Malley
JD Stout Fellow 2014

will present

The Waikato War: Myth, History and the ‘Art of Forgetting’

Collective memories, like individual ones, can be selective. We sometimes choose what we remember. And those choices are often instructive. But as scholars have also noted, there is an art to forgetting.

It can be more than simply the absence of memory. This talk surveys how the Waikato War has been remembered, or forgotten, historically and asks what this reveals about New Zealand’s foundational myths and narratives.

Date:               Wednesday 24 September 2014
Time:               4.10pm – 5.30pm
Venue:             McLaurin Lecture Theatre 103 – North end of Cotton Building main corridor just before the Hub
                        Gate 6, Kelburn Parade – Cotton Building main entrance
                         Victoria University of Wellington

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

J D Stout Fellowship 2015

Applications are now open for the John David Stout Fellowship for 2015. Based at the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, the Fellowship provides a great opportunity for authors and scholars to research and write on their chosen topic within an interdisciplinary academic environment.

Here is some more information on the Fellowship from the Stout Research Centre website:

The Fellowship

The Fellowship is funded by the Stout Trust. It has been created to foster research in New Zealand society, history and culture by providing the Fellow with an opportunity to work within an academic environment for the year of tenure. The Fellowship, which was established in 1985, has resulted in a body of influential publications in the field of New Zealand studies. The Fellowship is open to researchers in any area of study relating to New Zealand society, history or culture, but is not intended to fund the writing of a novel, play or other literary work.

Applicants should be scholars of high standing, with an established publication record, who have a particular project they wish to initiate or complete. They must be able to devote themselves to full-time research and writing on their chosen topic. Preference may be given to an applicant who proposes a fresh field of research. The successful applicant will spend a major part of his or her time at the Stout Research Centre so as to be able to take an active part in the life of the Centre. There is no restriction on either the nationality or occupation of applicants. The Fellowship will not be awarded to anyone whose research is concurrently supported by their regular employment, nor for the writing of a PhD.

Tenure and Terms

The tenure of the Fellowship is for 12 months, normally to be taken up on 1 March each year. The application round takes place around August-September each year for the appointment of the following year's JD Stout Fellow.

The Fellow will be attached to the Stout Research Centre at Victoria and will be responsible to the Director. The Stout Research Centre has been established at Victoria University of Wellington to encourage the study of society, history and culture in New Zealand. The Centre holds regular seminars and lectures during the year and the Fellow will be expected to contribute to this programme in a manner appropriate to his or her personal strengths and preferences. It is expected that a publication will result from the tenure of the Fellowship. All aspects of publication (negotiation of contract with publisher, design, etc.) are the responsibility of the Fellow. A room in the Stout Research Centre will be provided for the duration of the Fellowship, with access to computer, library and other facilities.


The salary for the Fellowship will be within the Research Fellow scale depending upon the qualifications and experience of the applicant. An allowance for travel and research may be negotiated. Where the Fellow is travelling from overseas, some recognition may be given to the cost of travel.

How to Apply

Applications for the JD Stout Fellowship are generally invited during August-September of the preceding year. The closing date for submitting applications is 1 October.  Applications can be made through Victoria University's home page under Vacancies.

Applicants should provide personal details and an outline of relevant published writings and work in progress. The proposed programme of work during the tenure of the Fellowship must be included, with an indication of the use likely to be made of the resources available in Wellington such as the Alexander Turnbull Library and Archives New Zealand. In making the appointment, considerable weight will be given to published writings of high quality.

For more information, see also