Thursday, June 04, 2009

Twenty of the best; or, a bibliography for recovering pseudo-scholars

In recent months, especially, this blog has spent a dispiriting amount of space on the fanciful and malicious claims about New Zealand history advanced by pseudo-scholars like Gavin Menzies, Martin Doutre, Kerry Bolton, and Rosanne Hawarden. Whether they tout themselves as 'alternative researchers', 'astroarchaeologists', or - most laughable of all - 'independent historians', the pseudo-scholars have one thing in common: a contempt for the rigorous methods and peer-reviewed body of literature developed by generations of serious researchers into New Zealand society and history. It would be timely, I think, to celebrate this heritage of genuine scholarship, by compiling a list - or a set of lists - of some of the classic works produced by the human sciences in New Zealand.

The following list of twenty classic books is obviously subjective - it speaks of my own passions and research interests, as much as anything else - and it is premised on a definition of 'human sciences' broad and fuzzy enough to include literary criticism as well as fields like archaeology and linguistics, which are closer in their methodologies to the natural sciences. Post your criticisms and amendments in the comments box.

Perhaps this list could serve as a bibliography for any recovering pseudo-scholars reading this blog. I'm sure that nobody who reads Judith Binney or HD Skinner will ever want to go back to the ravings of Martin Doutre or Kerry Bolton.

Judith Binney, Redemption Songs: a life of Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki , Auckland University Press, 1995.

The big one. Decades in the making, Binney's biography of the nineteenth century prophet, guerrilla leader, church founder, and songwriter is an epic in every sense of the word. Binney's narrative manages to draw on an astonishing array of written and oral sources, and to do justice to the frequent contradictions between these sources, without ever being anything less than compelling. The chapter explaining the book's methodology is of enormous value to any scholar concerned to honour both oral tradition and historical fact. By treating the myriad local traditions about Te Kooti - stories that describe his ability to travel vast distances in a moment, or ride his white horse up a cliff to escape capture, or make volcanoes erupt - as expressions of the relationships of different groups of people to the man, expressions which must be sensitively interpreted, rather than either taken literally or dismissed out of hand, Binney steers a path between the rocks of Eurocentrism and cultural relativism.

HD Skinner, The Morioris of the Chatham Islands, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1923.

HD Skinner was the founder of modern archaeology in New Zealand, and this book helped establish his reputation. He'd been desperate to see the Chathams for years, but war service and then petty bureaucratic regulations thwarted him, until he was driven to tuck some mince pies into his overcoat and stow away on a boat leaving Lyttleton for the islands. Skinner eventually returned to the Chathams with a team of students, and his thoroughgoing examination of skeletal evidence, tree and rock carvings, artefacts, and oral tradition demolished the pernicious myth that the Moriori were a Melanesian people who had been driven from the North and South Islands by the ancestors of the Maori. If only the myth had died as quickly amongst the general public as it did amongst scholars. David Bedggood, Rich and Poor in New Zealand: a critique of class, politics, and ideology, Allen and Unwin, 1980.

It may be hard to imagine now, but thirty years ago 'class' was a forbidden word for many scholars of New Zealand society. Along with an important anthology of writing on Social Class in New Zealand edited by David Pitt, Bedggood's Rich and Poor in New Zealand helped make the dirty word an acceptable part of the discourse of social scientists. Keith Sinclair gave both books very bad reviews, denying that classes existed in New Zealand and protesting that Bedggood had not bothered to do any research in an archive. Bedggood has never been much of a man for archives: he is interested in broad social trends, and in what Marx called the 'laws of motion of capital', rather than in historical detail. Rich and Poor in New Zealand is a sweeping, acerbic history of this country which emphasises the brutality of colonisation, the reality of yawning gaps in income and opportunity between different classes, and the persistence of industrial conflict. Thirty years after it was written, the book still figures on reading lists given to undergradute sociology students at New Zealand universities.

Geoff Park, Uruora: the Groves of Life , Victoria University Press, 1995.

Geoff Park's book is the record of a series of journeys in search of New Zealand's mostly-vanished lowland forests. As he crosses sodden dairy farms, kayaks down weed-infested drainage ditches, and inspects crumbling middens, Park meditates on the ways in which European colonists sought to impose a 'Cartesian' order of straight lines and clearly demarcated 'natural' and 'inhabited' zones on the landscape they found in New Zealand. Park is a superb prose stylist, and his chapters are rich in references to philosophy, archaeology, and history, as well as botany. When he does discover surviving stretches of lowland forest in areas like Mokau and the northern West Coast, Park's writing becomes rhapsodic, in the best sense of the word.

Park is a conservationist, but he is critical of the tendency of many environmentalists to want to 'quarantine' supposedly 'virgin' parts of nature in 'scenic reserves'. He rightly points out that the whole notion of 'virgin nature' is a corollary of the industrial revolution, which divided humans from the natural world in unprecedented ways. Park laments the way in which the establishment of scenic reserves often led in the early twentieth century to the displacement of Maori, who had learned to live inside and with 'virgin nature' in a way which conservationists did not understand.

Miles Fairburn, Nearly Out of Heart and Hope: the puzzle of a colonial labourer's diary, Auckland University Press, 1995.

Fairburn has a knack for combining microhistorical detail with historiographical speculation, so it is not surprising that his close reading of the diary of an impoverished labourer who wandered the backblocks of the lower North Island in the early twentieth century becomes an investigation into the causes of working class conservatism. Why did a man who suffered continually from the shortcomings of capitalism retain his belief in the hoary maxims of 'hard work and self-reliance', instead of identifying with the militant socialism that was a force in New Zealand in the first decades of the twentieth century? After an extraordinarily sensitive reading of his source material, Fairburn offers a convincing answer.

Judith Binney, The Legacy of Guilt, Auckland University Press, 1968.

Binney's first book does not have the narrative smoothness or the scope of Redemption Songs, but it is nevertheless an insightful treatment of the much-mythologised story of Thomas Kendall, the early missionary who 'went native' after becoming engrossed in the study of the Maori language and religion.

Dick Scott, Would a Good Man Die? Niue, New Zealand, and the late Mr Larsen. Southern Cross Books, 1993.

Dick Scott may be better known for his polemical histories of Parihaka and the 1951 lockout, but his study of the venal and brutal colonial regime that a police officer from a provincial New Zealand town established in mid-century Niue also packs a punch.

Len Richardson, Coal, Class and Community: the united mineworkers of New Zealand, 1880-1960. Auckland University Press, 1995.

Richardson wears his heart on his sleeve, but this study of one of New Zealand's most militant unions is much more than a celebration of battles won and a lament for battles lost. Richardson is attentive to cultural as well as political history, and his book includes fascinating details of miners' leisure time activities, as well as the time they spent down the pit and on the picket line. Today's postgraduate students should be made to read Richardson's account of how many West Coast miners would go straight from a ten-hour shift down the pit to an unheated 'study hut' where volumes of Marx waited.

Ian Richards, To Bed at Noon: the life and art of Maurice Duggan, Auckland University Press, 1997.

In Richards' sure hands, the truncated life of a minor New Zealand writer becomes a rich picture of Auckland in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Richards shows us the tight, working class Catholic community in which Duggan grew up, and then the even tighter Bohemian North Shore community which he entered after suffering a freak misfortune, before following his hero into Auckland's corporate world and its mental hospitals. Richards is currently living in Japan, but he is still turning out superb pieces of literary history, as this essay on Kendrick Smithyman's fear of flying shows. Nga Patai: racism and ethnic relations in Aotearoa/New Zealand, various, ed. Paul Spoonley, David Pearson, Cluny Macpherson, Dunmore Press, 1996.

If Nga Patai were more widely read our race relations would be in better shape. Almost every entry in this anthology is worth reading, but Evan Poata Smith's argument that Maori nationalism will become a political dead end if it does not take notice of class as well as ethnicity is particularly pertinent today.

Paul Spoonley, The Politics of Nostalgia, Dunmore Press, 1987

I'm obliged to mention this book, because I cited it religiously in the talk I gave on New Zealand's anti-semites for National Radio the other day. Spoonley's study of the strange flora and fauna of the extreme right - what other part of the political spectrum could give its organisations names like Zenith Applied Philosophy and the Church of Odin? - is distinguished by the connections it makes between ideology and class. Spoonley's discussion of the rural petty bourgeois basis of paranoid anti-semitic groups like the League of Rights is particularly impressive.

PW Hohepa, A Maori Community in Northland, Reed, 1970.

Hohepa's book is one of the first detailed anthropological studies of a Maori community conducted by a member of that community. Using his professional skills and deep 'inside' knowledge, Hohepa introduces us to a group of people who have inhabited a lush but isolated valley in the upper Hokianga for many hundreds of years, and who have in that time developed their own intricately beautiful culture.

Roger Neich, Painted Histories: early Maori figurative painting, Auckland University Press, 1993.

Neich's massive and sumptuous book honours a series of paintings that were for a long time considered grotesque symptoms of cultural decline. Often intricate and brightly-coloured, the paintings which adorn the meeting houses associated with Te Kooti's Ringatu movement fuse elements of the symbolic, stylised art of 'classical' Maori society with the realistic, sometimes jocular artforms of nineteenth century British culture. The result might almost be called New Zealand's first bicultural art. No wonder the Victorians were upset.

Christina Jefferson, Dendroglyphs of the Chatham Islands: Moriori designs on karaka trees, Polynesian Society, 1956.

Jefferson did not get a very friendly welcome when she appeared on the Chathams shortly after World War Two and began to ask questions about the carvings Moriori had made on trees. Refusing to believe locals' claims that the carvings had all but disppeared, and would not have been worth studying anyway, Jefferson hopped on a sturdy horse and spent months travelling Chatham and Pitt Islands, camping amidst the groves of karaka she searched for dendroglyphs. The hundreds of charcoal drawings of carvings which Jefferson published in 1956 have aesthetic as well as anthropological value. Jefferson's role in preserving the heritage of the Chathams has been recognised by subsequent scholars, yet she never published again.

James Belich, The Victorian Interpretation of Racial Conflict, Queens University Press, 1986.

Belich would later gain acclaim for his detailed studies of half-forgotten primary material relating to New Zealand's military history, but in this early piece of research he focuses on reinterpreting well-known facts about the wars between Maori and Pakeha. In a series of exemplary arguments, he shows that Victorian commentators were prevented from recognising the military achievements of Maori by notions of racial superiority. When they pondered the very slow advance of General Cameron's British army into the Waikato Kingdom in 1863, for example, they tended to blame Cameron for being over-cautious or incompetent, instead of recognising that well-organised attacks by Maori guerrilla forces to the north of the Waikato were seriously compromising British supply lines.

The Origins of the first New Zealanders, various, ed. Doug Sutton, Auckland University Press, 1994.

A triumph of interdisciplinary cooperation, this collection brings together anthropologists, historians, linguists, and boatbuilders to suggest answers to an old question. The most remarkable contribution comes from linguist Ray Harlow, whose analyses of the differences between a variety of Maori dialects leads him to suggest that New Zealand was settled by several distinct groups of Polynesians. Harlow has since extended his research by analysing the speech of various members of the Maori battalion who recorded greetings to their whanau while they were stationed in North Africa in World War Two. Because the differences between the dialects of iwi were more pronounced in the 1940s, Harlow hopes these crackly recordings from the deserts of Libya and Egypt can provide new insights into the prehistory of Aotearoa.

Kai Jensen, Whole Men: the masculine tradition in New Zealand literature, Auckland University Press, 1996.

In the fascinating introduction to this neglected book, Jensen explains that he became a radical feminist in the 1980s, and enrolled as a PhD student at the University of Auckland because he wanted to expose the patriachal nature of traditional New Zealand literature. During the seven years it took him to finish his thesis, though, Jensen lost some of his polemical zeal, as he became immersed in the postmodern theories of Derrida and Foucault that were washing through the university's English department. The result of Jensen's labours is a book which is sensitive to the 'gendered' nature of much of the writing of Kiwi literary legends like Dennis Glover and Allen Curnow, yet generously understanding of the historical and social situations which determined what those writers produced. Jensen's smooth prose and aversion to unnecessary jargon should be examples to all our literary scholars.

James McNeish, The Mask of Sanity: the Bain Murders, David Ling Publishing, 1997.

Some of you will no doubt baulk at the inclusion of this book in my list, but I think that its combination of detailed reporting, historical reconstruction, and pyschological portraiture distinguish it from the sensationalism and special pleading that have marked most accounts of the Bain saga. I hope that the long-suffering jurors in Christchurch have been reading McNeish's book on the sly.

Harry Orsman, Reed Dictionary of New Zealand English, Reed, 2001.

I've always thought that Orsman's marvellous, meticulously-assembled inventory of 'New Zild' was really a cryptic epic poem of the sort that Richard Taylor or Louis Zukofsky might produce. John Reynolds evidently agrees with me that Orsman's book is the stuff of art - in a massive work that almost won last year's Walters Prize, he scattered seven thousand entries from the dictionary across the walls of two levels of Auckland's New Gallery. Danny Keenan, Wars Without End, Penguin, 2009.

The anonymous smart-alec commenter who was giving me grief last week for talking of New Zealand's nineteenth-century 'Land Wars' ought to consult Maori historian Danny Keenan's fine new book. In his first chapter, Keenan casts his eye over the bewildering variety of names the conflicts between Maori and Pakeha have been given, uncovers the political motivations behind these names, and settles for Land Wars, on the grounds that all the diverse causes of the conflicts were concentrated in the issue of land ownership. It's a very good start to a very good book.


Blogger Olivia Macassey said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:21 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Not that I remember. It's a pretty down to earth book that zeroes in a few groups and individuals, gets to grips with them, and doesn't go too far into the big theoretical questions. The big strength of the book is the way it manages to connect ideas with social groups, and relate the popularity of these ideas amongst these groups to economic forces, without being crudely reductionist. Too many people today talk about ideas and 'discourses' as if they fell from the sky.

If summouning up nostalgia is inherently reactionary, then I'm in big trouble! ;)

4:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give it a rest.
Lots of these ones should never even been published.
Small-timers sniffing their own shit.
Martin Doutre who you so mock advances new paradigm in history which will not be appreciated probably for hundred and fifty years.
Just remain on your backward level, there is a good boy, Maps.

7:04 pm  
Blogger Jake said...

I would like to plump for Don MacKenzie's Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts, which includes a brilliant essay about the interface between oral and literary societies and their conceptions of the importance of texts in early-nineteenth century New Zealand, culminating in the signing of the treaty. An absolute classic.

7:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks 4 giving me 20 books to NOT read


fan of TRUTH

8:49 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jesus maps, how can you hear yourself think in here with all the quacking?

another useful volume is andrew sharps' "justice and the maori". good run-down of the history of injustices.

belich's "making peoples" is... useful... and an easy read as well.

9:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Genesis 1:1 states, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." This is the first and foremost apologetic. If a person stumbles on this one profound truth, a lifetime of doubt and confusion lies ahead for him, full of uncertainty about the ultimate purpose for being alive. But when a Christian attempts to alter this ultimate statement of reality to fit the compromising philosophies of men--even scientifically-trained professionals--then woe to him for his unbelief and, even graver still, for teaching others that unbelief. So which are you?

9:57 pm  
Blogger Jared Davidson said...

I prefer Eric Olssen's 'The Red Feds' to Len's but then again they have slightly different frameworks and focus.

Thanks for the list and ignore the trolls.

10:02 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

This is a good list I have quite few of these books - and I know or have met some of the writers or those mentioned.

But one book I have that is is interesting is "Ka Whawahai Tonu Matou - Struggle Without End" by Ranginui Walker. That is useful - for my sins I haven't finished it but that is me I read parts of books and go on to others in the middle of other books endlessly..

'Uruora' I got room the library once and it was great - again I had to take it back before I finished - must get it again.

Good to see a book by Dave Bedggood there - that book looks intriguing.

Pity Sinclair reacted that way - I met him once when I was playing chess with his son in about 1960 or so!! (I won and I represented Auckland at the NZ School Champs in ChCh - I went down with with Chris Evans of Te Awamutu who won.) Sinclair came - complete with pipe - to watch me and his son battle it out. He was a very nice fellow and his book on NZ history is good. (Of course it is an old book now...and Belich and many others have superseded him but his book is a good start...the Sinclairs themselves are all virtually a a part of NZ history themselves!)

Miles Fairburn, "Nearly Out of Heart and Hope: the puzzle of a colonial labourer's diary", Auckland University Press, 1995.

I picked this up out of curiosity but have never read it - part of my huge list of unread books! Must have a squiz

I met Pat Hohepa in 1970 (briefly) he was associated with the "Black Panthers" somewhat modeled on the US Black Power (Huey Newton et al) and later heard of Kai Jenson in chess circles in the 80s - he was a very very strong player but gave it up for literature - he used to read at the Albion about 1989 or so when I started reading live. He was active in the literature scene and at Uni here in Auckland where he did a PhD... now in Aussie I think...

My daughter met Belich once. I had given her his book about the NZ Wars - that was a good documentary he did on TV...

I used some of Roger Neich's images on EYELIGHT...for my sins - it is a very interesting but a huge book indeed.

Today in K Road I saw a second hand book by one of those nutters tracing NZ history back to the Middle East!! The writer had copied what looked like endorsements of his book by Edmund Hillary, Helen Clark and few others onto the back but they weren't (it was a con), they just said things such as: "This book X was published in 2001 (or whenever it was)." It is a really stupid book! And there was picture of this (60 year old or so) guy 'lecturing' (or more likely just raving) - to some people who looked either baffled or bemused - they were clearly not very bright.

The book was really badly written with "facts" that were just about all obviously wrong or "twisted" as the con men do; and very few (if any) references or citations, very shallow but deceptively done to appear profound ...fodder for morons!

To counter that offal, I had a very interesting book about the many letters that were sent by Maori about the time of and after the NZ wars... many could (and did very much) write in English and Maori and there was large base of correspondence on many subjects including issues relating to problems encountered dealing with Native Land Courts...

Does anyone know that book? I have a ref to it somewhere - I will look it up - but I forget the writer's name or the title for now...

11:15 pm  
Blogger Paul said...

Great list. Might I suggest Michael King's Penguin History of New Zealand for its elegant summary of the evidence of human settlement?

11:17 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Here's the book I had -

"Putea Whakairo : Maori and the Written Word" by Bradford Haami

Published by The Ministry for Culture and Heritage in association with Huia Publishers.

'Author Bradford Haami presents a history of the Ngati Hikatoa people through the writings of seven Maori people spanning four generations of the Maaka family. Included are genealogies, traditional histories, and personal documents written in Maori and in English that date from 1848-1978. Ranging from pepeha and waiata to the bleakly beautiful diaries of a mutton-birder, the documents collected in this book are a rare and intriguing window into the real lives of their authors.
This valuable reference work also illustrates how whanau, hapu and iwi holding private Maori manuscripts can safeguard and share ancestors’ precious works for the future.'

I copied out a lot of fascinating Maori words and phrases from that book...

Such books show the high cultural and intellectual level the Maori (who were Polynesian and slowly came via Asia over period of about 50,000 years -they were great and courageous navigators and sailors) were at in the 1870s and in fact even before the European came - but how they adapted to and in fact "overtook" European aspects of culture and even enhanced it (such as letter writing and indeed writing - Maori "writing" or records was traditionally by voice (korero) and song and by whakairo carving and so on...

11:44 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Michael King's book is great. He wrote a lot on NZ history. He lived here in Auckland I think as I saw him at book fair once. His (too early) death was tragic.

11:48 pm  
Blogger Dave Brown said...

Sinclair's hostility to Rich and Poor (its online here
was political. Sure it had inaccuracies, but nothing vital. What was vital was the argument that NZ was a class ridden society which flatly rejected Sinclairs class free society.

What he didnt like was the open attack on him and his liberal Reeves long pink cloud history of NZ.
He hated Marxism and especially the attraction of some of his brightest students to Marxism. John Macrea was Sinclair's PhD student and starting collaborating with me in a Marxist analysis of NZ see here:

He would have lost Michael Stenson too if he hadnt died suddenly in Burma in 1977. Stenson was reviews editor of the NZJHistory and insisted on reviewing Red Papers favorably against Sinclair's editorial edict. Stenson was like quite a few left Social Democrats at the time, attracted to Marxism especially the renewed interest in Marx sparked by the publication of Grundrisse.

Sinclair was a very self-conscious liberal ideologue defending the received version of Labourite history.
He was at least a good writer being also a poet. I don't think that Bellich or King are as good. My favourite NZ historian is JC Beaglehole NZ A Short History. He had the distinction of being effectively sacked from Auckland University for defending the freedom of speech of the unemployed during the depression.

12:55 am  
Anonymous James Muir said...

Great list Maps. When I was working on my M.Phil at Waikato in the mid-90s I was recommended to Bedggood's book as a way to help draw together my political economy theoretical interests with my own primary research and the mainstream of NZ historiography.
Jared Davidson referred to Olssen's Red Feds; I'd suggest Olssen's later Building the New World.

8:20 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'He would have lost Michael Stenson too if he hadnt died suddenly in Burma in 1977.'

How did and why he die?

3:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I object to the description of Redemption Songs as 'the big one', because it implies that the book is being compared to the others on the list and being found to better, or 'bigger'. But how can you compare a biography of 'Te Kooti' (if that was indeed his name) with a dictionary or a book about adzes or a book about Niue? You can't. I am sure the other authors will not enjoy the false comparison.


4:04 pm  
Blogger Olivia Macassey said...

Thanks Maps.

Bugger, for a minute there I thought we'd found NZs answer to Patrick Wright.

4:08 pm  
Blogger Dave Brown said...

Michael Stenson died of a meningitis type disease contracted while he was on research leave in Burma in 1977.
Stenson was a student of Sinclair's but that didn't stop him investigating class as in his book 'Class, Race and Colonialism in West Malaysia: the Indian Case' published posthumously in 1980.

8:25 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Yes - when I met Sinclair he was a typical bourgeois professor - a nice enough fellow but like my own father no Marxist - in fact my father admired people who were professionals and didn't like workers or socialism (but the must have had some ideals or dreams in his youth as he admired Sutch) - he came to NZ to escape the English Class System, so - like lots of Poms he didn't think NZ had one - Sinclair was probably a good sort but a typical laid back Labourite.

He was certainly a good poet and had a great knowledge but he wouldn't like references to class. He probably had some good arguments with R A Mason who was a communist - my father liked Mason's poetry and knew him (I have a sketch of Mason here he did in about 1929) but didn't share his politics - he always voted National!

Mason may have rejected religion but his poetry is inspired by the hero as a Christ like figure (Baxter takes that tack somewhat also) is very powerful and great writing. I was in an English tutorial with Smithyman in 1968 and I recall Smithyman muttering about how politics had destroyed his poetry or something to that effect...

They were all a bit wary of Marxism per se...I think Smithyman, Sinclair and probably Duggan (who were all friends or acquaintances) shared a similar philosophic (probably anti-Marxist) bias so to speak...)
of many writers around that time...

Although there a number inspired by Marxism. (More in Britain and Aussie?)

Of the writers and intellectuals of those times - Iris Wilkinson - Robyn Hyde - seems to me to have the greatest social and political acumen - even a strong class awareness. (I'm thinking of "Nor the Yeas Condemn" and even "Wednesday's Children" )

She was major prose writer - I cant read her poetry...

9:21 pm  
Blogger Fatal Paradox said...

Interesting thread developing here :)

Following on from Richard's comment above, I think one of most interesting works I've read on the intersection between left-wing politics and NZ writers/intellectuals is James McNeish's 2003 book "Dance of the Peacocks", which focuses on Milner, Davin, Mulgan, Bertram and Cox.

Haven't read his book on David Bain though...

9:32 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

"...He would have lost Michael Stenson too if he hadnt died suddenly in Burma in 1977. Stenson was reviews editor of the NZJHistory and insisted on reviewing Red Papers favorably against Sinclair's editorial edict. Stenson was like quite a few left Social Democrats at the time, attracted to Marxism especially the renewed interest in Marx sparked by the publication of Grundrisse...."

The wars and sacrifices of Academe !

But I can well imagine Sinclair's hostility to Marxism. (I keep thinking, despite, that, being yet of tender and innocent years, I knew little of such complex issues when I saw him: of his ubiquitous pipe! A man, however genial, with a pipe, while he can't be evil, is in all probability very very bourgeois... )

Marx - despite everything - still towers (nay, e'en "bestrides"); complete with his vast beard and Dickensian visage; like a massive Collossus in history and in economics, sociology and philosophy - whether they like, hate, or love him (his ideas and researches) - sociologists or historians etc need to at least have a good understanding of his writings... a counter or antidote to too much Derrida, Heidegger, Stockhausen etc!

I see Maps took a swipe a Postmodernism (at least the most "relativistic" aspects of PM) in his interview...!!

9:41 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

James McNeish has written some interesting books.

O.K. verdict Not Guilty but - who dunnit?

7:55 pm  
Anonymous Keri Hulme said...

Many thanks Maps, for bringing back some must re-read titles, and especially to make sure I finally get a copy of the PW Hohepa (been on my must-get list for over 2 decades now.)

My list for recovering pseudoscholars would include some very basic anthropoloy/archaeology texts as well yer historical overviews for AotearoaNZ -but (sigh)do any of 'em really recover?

The additions should include(you've already mentioned it elsewhere but reiteration can help) Michael King's "Moriori: A people Rediscovered."

9:53 pm  
Blogger Marty Mars said...

I'm re-reading Rawiri Te Maire Tau's "The oral traditions of Ngai Tahu" and i'd like to recommend it to your list.

His discussion and analysis of Ngai Tahu oral traditions, from within the traditions, and a modern historian's perspective, is outstanding.

He combines that discussion with debate about the use, within his source texts, of specific and general mythical templates.

This creates context for the reader to not only understand and appreciate the oral histories within the tribal framework but to also make the whole process historically satisfying.

Well worth a read, as is his recent work with Atholl Anderson on the Carrington papers, entitled Ngai Tahu A Migration History.

10:58 am  
Anonymous Keri h said...

Marty Mars - absolutely those 2 titles, if we're looking at the later settlement period of Te Wahi Pounemu (and I'd add the Herries Beattie compendium "Traditional Lifeways of the Southern Maori.")

But - will such as Brailsford or Menzies (or acolytes) or Doutre bother? There is so much real & exciting information out there -but pseudoscholars seem to prefer the self-massaging comforts of their own fantasies...

5:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, i'm a professional historian working for the govt. i find your list interesting, though a little bit skewed with lots of omissions in the historical field in particular.

i think Anne Salmond's books Between Two Worlds etc are pretty good, fascinating histories of first contact between Pakeha and Maori. I liked them better than Cannibal Dog where the Marxist analysis had been largely written out.

in terms of working class history, i think you miss out a lot for an avowed lefty. I don't think Bedggood's book is useful but not as good as you suggest (sorry Dave, Sinclair's silly judgment notwithstanding). i think Roper's Prosperity for all? provides a better sweeping Marxist socio-economic overview.

In terms of working class stuff, you miss out --
* Tony Simpson, The Sugarbag Years -- excellent oral working class history. Simpson wrote a number of other books.
*Erik Olssen, Reds Feds (an excellent book), Caversham (very interesting study of working class commununity), John A Lee etc
*Dick Scott, 151 days (another excellent book) and Parihaka, a seminal book
*Bert Roth and Janny hammond, Toil and trouble (A picture book but nonetheless contains loads of valuable info not found elsewhere)
* W B Sutch, The Quest for Security in NZ (a classic that is often forgotten)
* Bruce Jesson, Fragments of Labour, Behind the Mirror Glass, Only their Purpose is Mad (sharp analysis of neoliberalism)

I quite like the work of Mark Derby, Jim McAloon, Melanie Nolan (Kin), Neill Atkinson (Crew Culture) and Stevan Eldred-Grigg too, as well as lots of others.

As for Michael King: good historian, but a bit liberal, not good at working class history. Belich is bit more left. I look forward to seeing Belich publish his history of international indigenous resistance, bringing NZ into step with the trend to international history and getting away from the nationalist paradigm of NZ academia.

12:35 am  
Blogger Edward said...

Interesting list Maps, I will have to try and find time to read up on many you recommend.

Insofar as archaeology is concerned, your choice of HD Skinner is a good one. Another one considered a classic by archaeologists and one I recommend to a lot of people for general purposes is Janet Davidson's 'The Prehistory of New Zealand' (1987, 2nd ed.).

And a thorough synopsis of NZ archaeology can be found in the very good 'Change through time: 50 years of New Zealand Archaeology' by Louise Furey and Simon Holdaway (2004).

11:24 am  
Blogger maps said...

Thanks for all the additions to my wildly subjective list! Lots of stuff to read...

12:10 pm  

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