Call for papers

Call for papers: The history postgraduate students at Victoria University, Te Whare Wānanga o te Ūpoko o te Ika a Māui, warmly invite you to the 2016 New Historians Conference, to be held in Wellington on Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 October.

First established in 2006 by Professor Melanie Nolan and postgraduate students, the conference attracts MA and PhD candidates and others who have recently completed their research.

It is an excellent opportunity to discuss current work and to share ideas.

Expressions of interest and 200 word abstracts are due 1 September.
Registrations are due by 15 September.

Keynote speakers will be confirmed shortly. Registration costs $25, to be paid on arrival at the conference. There will be an optional conference dinner on Monday night, costing $28-$35 per person.

Further details are available at:<>

Please follow the event via Twitter: @HistoryatVic and use the hashtag #NewHist16.

IFRWH May 2016

Welcome all to the May blog. Below we have a wonderful reflection from Margaret Tennant about the recent ‘making women visible’ conference in Dunedin and her reflections of teaching women’s history. We encourage you to  place your comments and feedback below, this is of course what this space is for.There is also our facebook page


If there is anything you would think would be of interest for the facbook page/ blog let us know!


Happy Reading!

Blog post-A Past in (Women’s) History by Margaret Tennant.

The ‘Making Women Visible’ conference to celebrate Barbara Brookes and her recently published A History of New Zealand Women brought back memories of teaching women’s history at Massey over more than a decade.  Starting in the mid-1980s, there was the challenge of getting course approval – ready acceptance within the History Department was followed by the predictable ‘but what about a course on men’s history’ at Faculty Board.  This was easily enough refuted with reference to the content of just about every other history course being taught and, on the whole, Humanities academics in the 1980s wanted to avoid looking like total dinosaurs and backed off. There was soon a slate of other courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences with a women’s studies perspective, and the eventual emergence of a major in women’s studies (that’s another story, and not always a happy one).

My 200-level course was called ‘Women in History: Australia and New Zealand’, and it allowed me to draw upon a much more extensive Australian literature on women (largely relating to NSW and Victoria at the time) and to make comparisons between the two countries. As was happening more generally with New Zealand history, the secondary literature expanded rapidly from the 1980s as research previously accessible largely in thesis form was published in books and articles.  The 1993 anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand produced some wonderful new publications, most notably Sandra Coney’s Standing in the Sunshine and Women Together Ngā Rōpū Wāhine o te Motu, which Anne Else edited with input from many interested in, and supportive of women’s history.

The course consequently became easier and more difficult to teach over time.  Women’s history, as we often pointed out to each other, was by its nature critical history, less amenable to the cosy assumptions which underpinned many of our male colleagues’ courses.  We became acutely aware of our own, as well as others’ positioning.  There were inherent tensions and on-going debate: were women victims of male oppression, or social actors with agency? Was it our responsibility to explain the past on its own terms (if we could ever do that), or was our research and teaching a basis from which to understand the present, and potentially a force for social change? If the latter, what distortions and over-simplifications might occur?  Historians’ usual tendency to allow for complexity and nuance (or wimpish fence-sitting?) did not necessarily fit activist agendas.

And, by the 1980s there was the matter of whether our focus should be women’s history or gender history: at least one presentation at a NZHA conference left some of us feeling like dinosaurs ourselves:  ‘gender’ was the tool by which the whole historical enterprise was to be transformed; ‘women’s history’ was passé.  My own course was refocussed and became for a while ‘Gender in History’, until I realised that it was largely an inversion of many of the other history courses on offer – mostly about women with men tacked on.  I became unapologetic about a focus on women and the insights this could give to history more generally, since even silences are significant, as many of our course readings pointed out.

And yet, there was also the question, increasingly acute, of what we meant when we talked about ‘women’, and which women’s experiences were being foregrounded.  The work of Denise Riley and many others helped ‘fracture the category of “woman’’, while challenges were posed around who had the right to speak or write about women of different sub-categories and ethnicities. This did not make for comfortable times, but that in itself was no bad thing. Barbara Brookes and I wrestled with the most appropriate way to discuss Māori women’s pasts in a chapter in Women in History 2, published in 1992.  Our call for a ‘doubled vision’ of women’s history in New Zealand seems pretty tame and tentative now.  Barbara has moved well beyond this in her handling of Māori women’s experience in her 2016 book.

The actual classes in 148.210 Women in History were invigorating and wonderful to teach. At Massey we had the privilege of teaching to extramural as well as internal students, and the former would come in for contact courses held over two to three days.  All such courses were exhausting and exhilarating, but those in women’s history especially so. Many of the extramurals were older students, women and a few men, with considerable life experience, who related on a very personal level to the times and issues being covered. But numbers declined in the early 2000s, and I was shocked by one younger student who said her flatmates had told her a paper of this kind would ‘not look good’ on her CV.  As I was bought out of teaching to undertake research contracts and took on more administration (the fate of many of us as we became more senior – historians seem to have a particular sense of responsibility in this direction) the course rotated on an increasingly erratic basis.  It eventually slipped from the schedule of papers as pressure came on to cut offerings.

Still, at Massey and elsewhere postgraduates remained interested in researching women’s experiences. A heartening aspect of the ‘Making Women Visible’ conference was not only the sheer number of papers offered and delivered over its two full days, but the number associated with present or recent postgraduates.  Other positives from 2016 which resonated with my recollections of the past were the international networks apparent, the connections across disciplines and the way in which the conference drew in those from academia, from archives, museums, galleries and government agencies. In the 1980s I was as likely to attend and present my research at a women’s studies conference as at a New Zealand Historical Association one, and this 2016 conference had something of the cross-disciplinary, open feel of these past gatherings – without some of the prickliness I also recall from that time.

Above all, and very precious to me in February of this year was the sense of on-going friendships built upon a shared delight in uncovering women’s pasts. Long may the commitment to ‘making women visible’ generate such supports and networks and, of course, such rich and varied history!


IFRWH Newsletter February 2016

Welcome to our February installment of the blog.

Below you will find the February blog post by Angela Wanhalla, Jane McCabe, Katie Cooper, Sarah Christie and Jane Adams on the ‘Making Women Visible Conference’ held last week. 

You will also find links below to conference call for papers and a special mention of a medal.

Feel free to start a conversation on articles you have read, blog post etc., this is what we are here for! You can do it on this page or on our facebook page


Happy reading.



Blog post-Making Women Visible Conference

Angela Wanhalla, Jane McCabe, Katie Cooper, Sarah Christie and Jane Adams

It is hard to believe that just over a week ago we were preparing to welcome delegates for the Making Women Visible Conference, which ran from 15-17 February at the University of Otago. When we first discussed the idea of this event, we did not envisage just how much interest the conference would attract, both in terms of the number of abstracts offered in response to the call for papers, nor the huge number of people who attended it.

 Our vision was simple: to mark the publication of an important new book surveying the history of New Zealand women and to use this as an occasion to reflect on the scholarship produced in the field since the 1990s. We were also aware there had not been a conference dedicated solely to women’s history for at least fifteen years, so it seemed to us that the publication of Barbara Brookes’s A History of New Zealand Women by Bridget Williams Books offered an opportunity to assess the state of the field, and also look to the future.

 We chose Making Women Visible as our conference title and theme because it encompasses some of the key goals of women’s scholarship: to centre women in historical narratives, and to make visible the many hands that have laid the foundations of the field in this country. It was important to us to acknowledge and pay tribute to the women at the forefront of women’s history, notably Barbara Brookes and her collaborators Margaret Tennant and Charlotte Macdonald, Dorothy Page, Patricia Grimshaw, as well as Raewyn Dalziel amongst others. But we also felt it was important to look to the future, so we were pleased to see so many postgraduates present at the conference, bringing a multi-generational feel to the event. Moreover, we wanted this conference to be a space for opening up conversation across disciplines and methodologies, and so we were particularly delighted to be able to host a conference on women’s history that included scholars from a range of disciplines, and leaders from the museum, archives, gallery and library sectors.

 Over 150 delegates attended the Making Women Visible Conference and they were treated to some engaging and rich histories of the female experience. We opened with a compelling keynote address from Barbara Brookes on the history of care work and caring, which attracted a large and attentive crowd. From the moment the audience gathered we sensed something momentous was about to happen, and this set the tone for the book launch that followed, and the conference itself. Charlotte Macdonald convened and introduced a forum ‘Making Women Visible on the Pages of History’, which opened day two of the conference. She brought together three speakers who addressed the visibility of women in the public space. Sandra Coney spoke about Broadsheet and encouraged historians and archivists to collect material relating to second wave feminists; Bridget Williams addressed women in the publishing sector drawing from her experiences in England and New Zealand; Megan Whelan (Radio New Zealand) discussed the challenges of women in journalism. Two engaging and thought provoking keynotes from Melissa Matutina Williams and Frances Steel laid down challenges for future scholarship. With over 70 papers, the programme showcased some of the new terrain being opened up by scholars of women’s history. There were sessions on sexuality and emotion, and on material histories, including fashion, but also the visual, notably photography and film. Many spoke about individual women, some known nationally, and others prominent in their communities during their lifetime. Women’s writing was also canvassed, as was the work of artists and curators. Presenters addressed health, crime, education, and pay equity too. The place and role of feminism, and its relevance today was also on the agenda and inspired some lively debates. Encouraging conversation and debate was one of our goals and we hope that those dialogues opened up across generations and disciplines will continue into the future, hopefully on this blog. We also hope that it won’t take another 15 years before another women’s history conference is held in New Zealand!

 The Making Women Visible Conference was made possible by the generosity of our funders: the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture, the University of Otago’s Continuing Education Fund, and the Women’s Studies Association of New Zealand. Their support enabled us to bring keynote and forum speakers to Dunedin. We thank our funders, and particularly acknowledge all participants for embracing the conference and making it an event to remember. We hope that the conference has encouraged conversation, enabled new collaborations, and will lead to similar events in the future.

 For further details about the conference go to the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture blog site:

 To see a selection of photographs from the book launch and conference go the Facebook page of the Department of History and Art History:

 To see social media comments on the conference go to its Storify page: 

A link that maybe of interest to some. Wouldn’t be awesome if Te Papa could buy it?



Welcome to the first blog of the New Zealand Women’s History Caucus!


The New Zealand Women’s History Caucus is a network of people interested in the history of women and gender and women doing history. The Caucus is loosely affiliated with the New Zealand Historical Association ( .  The Caucus internationally is affiliated to the International Federation for Research in Women’s History/Federation Internationale pour la Recherche en Histoire des Femmes ( which provides an international forum for women’s history through conferences, newsletters and connections

The Caucus revives a network that was active from the late 1980s through to the early 2000s. With new interest, the New Zealand Women’s History Caucus is entering  a fresh phase with more active involvement, including regular meetings, involvement with future postgrads, continued liaison with the International Federation for Research in Women’s History (including attendance at Federation conferences held every five years), and a blog which has been set up to help foster discussion on all things women’s and gender history related.

The New Zealand Women’s History Caucus brings together people researching, studying, writing, reading and exploring women’s history from across the country and from a wide range of locations. Some are students and staff in universities, others are in public organisations including museums, libraries and galleries, others are involved in community projects, some are in government departments and local councils, others are independent, some are in business. Women’s history and women working in history are everywhere!

The Caucus meets as a group at the biennial New Zealand Historical Association Conference, most recently held in Christchurch 2-4 December 2015. The blog is a product of this meeting.

Once a month there will be a blog post- the topic anything to do with women in history. There is also a facebook page where you can also read the blog posts, post articles, ask question, and communicate with other Caucus members.


The links for these can be can be found here; The blog and the facebook page

If you are on twitter use the hashtag #NZWomensHistoryCaucus

Below is a link to an article passed on to us about women in academia and how publishing of work is a male dominated field. What are your thoughts on this article- let’s start a discussion!

We look forward to the coming months of bog posts and seeing many of you and the “Making Women Visible” Conference in Dunedin in a few weeks.


Happy reading,

Hannah and Ruth.