History postgraduate students hold annual New Historians Conference

Organised by master's by thesis students in the School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations, the theme of the 13th Annual New Historians Conference was "Now That's What I Call History".

Audience at New Historians Conference 2018
Conference attendees listen to a presentation at the 2018 New Historians Conference.

Postgraduate students in the History Programme at Victoria University and from other disciplines and universities in New Zealand recently gathered for the annual New Historians Conference, a tradition now in its 13th year. The conference receives support from the School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations.

The theme of the conference for this year – “Now That’s What I Call History’ – allowed for a wide variety of topics and approaches to be shared. The conference was an opportunity for postgraduate students from across New Zealand and beyond to share their research and discuss developments in the field.

Master’s students in history Rachel Boddy, Max Nichol, Liam Barnsdale, and Josh King were this year’s convenors.

They brought in 20 presenters, and encouraged other disciplines with a historical focus to apply to speak. This interdisciplinary focus saw papers being presented from English, Strategic Studies and Film Studies departments.

The opening speaker, Dr Valerie Wallace from Victoria University of Wellington, gave an fascinating and introspective speech on the process of writing her book, Scottish Presbyterianism and Settler Colonial Politics: Empire of Dissent. She spoke to the theme of the conference and identified how moments of her life had helped form the way that she understands and writes about history. Dr. Monty Soutar from the Ministry from Culture and Heritage closed the conference with a talk about the way in which he saw the future of public history shaping.

The conference programme included research from students studying adultery in the eighteenth century, Trans History in 1970’s New Zealand, Video Games as a historical medium, and New Zealand’s radio Doctor.

A panel on Jobs in History was present for a second year, featuring panellists from the Ministry of Defence, the Office of Treaty Settlements, the Alexander Turnbull Library and the New Zealand Defence Force. Chair of the panel, Josh, said that “to have representatives from various workplaces around Wellington share their thoughts on the skills History graduates can bring to the workplace was a great boon for the Conference. Hopefully New Historians can continue to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of Wellington’s History and Government professionals in coming years.”

Rachel said that organising the conference had proved to be a feat of great organisation: “We were all organising the conference at the same time as writing and researching our theses and tutoring, so there was definitely a lot to keep on top of, but we enjoyed it”

The Organising Committee said that they were proud of the conference, and the wide variety of speakers and sessions that were available, and that they look forward to attending next year.