Tony Ballantyne wins prestigious national prize for best history book

03 December 2015

Auckland University Press is delighted to announce that Professor Tony Ballantyne is the winner of the New Zealand History Association’s inaugural W H Oliver prize.

The judges described Entanglements of Empire as “an elegant and sophisticated work, which takes New Zealand historical scholarship to a new level of analysis and interpretation.

Drawing on ideas of space, place and the body, and concepts of entanglement employed in recent South African historiography, along with the work of scholars George Stocking and Greg Dening and local historians, Ballantyne revisits the moments of physical and cultural encounter in the early colonial period - specifically the cross-cultural entanglements with Protestant missionaries in the far north of New Zealand - and re-interprets the experiences through a critical postcolonial lens.

The focus in this volume on contact and bodies means that the focus here is on the ‘bodies in contact’ on the frontier zone and the differing epistemological systems and establishments that these bodies both occupied and represented.
Ballantyne’s very fruitful use of the metaphor of entanglement is a useful and successful device in moving us beyond the limitations of the concept of encounter and in so doing emphasizes the more nuanced ‘webs of interdependence’ which characterized the complexity of empire making.

Ballantyne’s eloquent and effortless narrative style and his quietly confident and assured authorial voice make this text deeply engaging and highly readable. The careful analysis and attention to detail, along with Ballantyne’s extensive primary and secondary research makes a significant contribution to New Zealand history and historiography.

Entanglements of Empire
is one of the standout texts in this year’s entries and represents an important contribution to the historiography of empires and the new imperial history.”

Tony Ballantyne commented: "I am delighted to receive this prize for Entanglements of Empire and I am very sorry that I could not be in Christchurch to receive it in person. I am thrilled to receive this award from the NZHA and am particularly delighted that the award marks the profound disciplinary contribution of the late Bill Oliver.

I would like to acknowledge the hard work of the team at Duke University Press, especially my editor Miriam Angress, and also Sam Elworthy’s team at Auckland University Press. I would also like to acknowledge my colleagues at Otago, both in the Department of History and Art History and the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture, who my share my deep commitment to thinking through the history of our islands and their changing place in the world."

Press director Sam Elworthy said: “W. H. Oliver was a deep thinker about New Zealand and our place in the world: Tony Ballantyne shares those same qualities. So we’re thrilled to have copublished Tony’s Entanglements of Empire with Duke University Press, for the book to have won the inaugural W. H. Oliver Award, and to be longlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.”