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Historical Geographies 

Changing environments, communities, and conceptions of health and wellbeing

Through the medium of archival records and oral histories, research under this theme explores the loss of radical changes to the social-ecological systems of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand associated with European colonisation.

Case studies trace the ways in which settler colonial policies impacted Indigenous societies in Queensland Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand's Eastern Bay of Plenty and Waikato, and detrimentally affected Indigenous health and wellbeing through the slow violence (conflict, dispossession, institutionalisation, and socio-economic, political, and cultural marginalisation).


In particular, I considered the specific socio-material practices and socio-technical networks in which landscapes and waterscapes were performed as healthy and unhealthy, different and normal, healing and harming, wet and dry by Indigenous and European settlers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Despite recognition of the growing risks associated with climate change and the worsening degradation of ecological systems, the lasting legacies of colonisation of the health of Indigenous communities and how this creates particular patterns of vulnerability to the impacts of climate change remains an under-appreciated site of study by social scientists.


Accordingly, research seeks to contribute towards literatures of environmental histories and Indigenous geographies through an examination of the coupled social-ecological transformations in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand as a consequence of settler colonialism. These transformation not only negatively contributed to the environmental dispossession of Indigenous communities, but also the loss of biodiversity, diminished Indigenous resilience, and increased vulnerability to climate risks. 

Kauri Tree, Aotearoa New Zealand
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