I mainly work offsite, so the best way to contact me is via email.
I am a historian of environment, science and gardens. Before joining Victoria University of Wellington in 2017, I was professor of history at the University of Waikato (2007-2017) and, earlier, ‘Asia New Zealand’ post-doctoral fellow at the University of Otago (2005-2007). I hold several research associate positions, including with the World Center for Environmental History (University of Sussex) and the Department of History, Division of Humanities, University of Johannesburg. I am also Honorary Curator, Dunedin Chinese Gardens, and work closely with colleagues at Sun Yat-sen University, People’s Republic of China. From 2017- 2019, I am President, New Zealand Asian Studies Society.
I am a leading historical researcher on the Asia-Pacific region, examining the nexus between environmental history, history of science, landscape history and health history. My work is especially focussed on exploring cross-cultural dimensions of exchanges of environmental knowledge, plants, climate change and conservation ideas. I collaborate with ecologists, geographers, architects and translators, and have led several international projects on environmental change. In addition, I work on Chinese art collecting and have an interest in museums and collecting.
Current research projects
- Ecological Change and World Empires, 2500BCE to 2000CE, with Prof. Gene Anderson, University of California (Oxford University Press).
- China, Migration and Environmental Change in the Pacific.
- Overseas Chinese Gardens: Identity, Belonging and Cultural Exchange.
- Environmental Change in Australasia—a Documentary History, with Andrea Gaynor (UWA) (Routledge).
- Ecological Change in the Taranaki Ringplain since the last Ice Age, with Professor Bruce Clarkson (University of Waikato).
- Medicine and the Chinese Diaspora, with Dr. John Fountain (University of Otago).
I am an experienced supervisor and welcome students to work on topics related to: environmental history, history of science, ecological history, landscape history, health history and garden history. I am especially interested in the role of China and Chinese migration in environmental change.
Current supervisions include
- Anton Sveding – ‘Public Science: Forests, Conservation and the NZ Public’, PhD (History), 2018-.
- Meera Muralidaran – ‘Environmental change in South India: trade and the Dutch VOC’, PhD (History), 2018-.
- Zoe Heine – ‘Community Gardens and Climate Change’, MSc (Science in Society), 2019-.
- Louise Stevenson – ‘Science and Mission in China’, MA (History), 2019-.
Recent supervisions include
- Joanna Bishop, ‘The use of Native and Introduced Plants in Colonial Health Care’, 2011-2014.
- John Armstrong, ‘Trans-National Medical Connections, 1940-1970’, 2010-2013.
- Maree Dawson, ‘National Fitness or Failure? Heredity, Vice and Racial Decline in New Zealand Psychiatry: A Case Study of the Auckland Mental Hospital, 1868-99’, 2010-2013.
- Sandy Harman, ‘The struggle for success: A socio-cultural perspective on the French Marist priests and their Māori mission (1838-1867)’, 2010.
- Alexander Sutherland, ‘Paving the Silk Road: Examining Silk Road historiography and material culture’, 2017.
- Nicola Lemberg, ‘Gold-Rush Literature in Comparative Perspective’, 2015.
- Courtenay Rayes, ‘Invasive Organisms: Ship-worms in New Zealand’, 2013-2014.
- Annette Bainbridge, ‘Cultivating Gardens, Cultivating Friendships: Gardening Cultures in Colonial Canterbury’, 2014-2015.
- Hazel Baker, ‘Modernism and Japanese Gardens’, 2009-2010.
- China in Australasia: Cultural Diplomacy and the Collecting and Display of Chinese Arts since the Cold War. Eds. J. Beattie, R. Bullen & M. Galikowski. London: Routledge, 2019.
- Gardens at the Frontier: New Methodological Perspectives on Garden History and Designed Landscapes. Ed. J. Beattie. London: Routledge, 2018.
- New China Eyewitness: Roger Duff, Rewi Alley and the Art of Museum Diplomacy Ed. J. Beattie & R. Bullen. Christchurch: Canterbury University Press, 2017.
- 亞環境、現代化與發展：環境史的視野 [Environment, Modernization and Development in East Asia: Perspectives from Environmental History] Eds. Ts’ui-jung Liu 劉翠溶 & J. Beattie (畢以迪). Trans. Ts’ui-jung Liu. Taipei: Asian Culture Publishing Co., 2017.
- Beattie, J. & Bullen, R. (2016). Bringing China Home: Chinese Stories and Objects in Hawke’s Bay Napier: MTG Hawke’s Bay and Asia NZ Foundation.
- Eco-Cultural Networks and the British Empire: New Views on Environmental History. Eds. J. Beattie, E. D. Melillo & E. O’Gorman. New York; London: Bloomsbury, 2015.
- Climate, Science, and Colonization: Histories from Australia and New Zealand. Eds. J. Beattie, E. O’Gorman & M. Henry. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
- Beattie, J. & Bullen, R. (2014). Visions of Peace: The Art of Soft Diplomacy and The W.H. Youren Collection of Chinese Art. Dunedin: Confucius Institute & Museum, Theatre, Gallery Hawke’s Bay.
- Beattie, J. & Campbell, D. (2013) The Art, Culture and History of Lan Yuan 蘭園: The Dunedin Chinese Garden. Hamilton; Shanghai: Shanghai Museum Press and Dunedin Chinese Gardens Trust.
- Beattie, J. (2011, 2016), Empire and Environmental Anxiety, 1800-1920: Health, Science, Art and Conservation in South Asia and Australasia. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
- 蘭園 Lan Yuan - The Garden of Enlightenment: Essays on the Intellectual, Cultural, and Architectural Background to the Dunedin Chinese Garden. Eds. J. Beattie. Hamilton: New Zealand Asian Studies Society; Dunedin Chinese Gardens Trust, 2008.
Curated Art Exhibitions
- J. Beattie & R. Bullen, China: Open Empire, Canterbury Museum Travelling Exhibition, February 2018 to 2020.
- J. Beattie & R. Bullen, Bringing China Home: Chinese Stories and Objects in Hawke’s Bay, 16 July 2016 to 7 June 2017, MTG Hawke’s Bay, Napier, 127 objects curated.
- Visions of Peace: A Kiwi Farmer in Communist China, scriptwriter and co-producer, J. Beattie, P. Millar & R. Bullen, post production.
Refereed Articles (since 2018)
- Beattie, J. (2018) ‘Rethinking Chinese environmental history’, Global History Review 全球史评论 14, 30-69.
- Beattie, J. (2018) ‘Environmental History and Garden History in China and the West: Problems, Methods and Responses’, Environment and History, 24, 5-22.
Refereed Book Chapters (since 2018)
- Beattie, J. (2020), ‘Chinese Resource Frontiers, Environmental Change, and Entrepreneurship in the Pacific, 1790s-1920s’, Migrant Ecologies in the Pacific. Eds. E. D. Melillo & R. T. Jones. Honolulu: Hawai’i University Press, forthcoming.
- Beattie, J. & E.N. Anderson (2020). ‘Environments and Empires in World History, 3000BCE-1900CE’, in The Oxford History of World Empires. Eds. P. Bang, C. A. Bayly, & W.Scheidel. Oxford: OUP, 2020.
- Beattie, J. & P. Star (2020). ‘Global Influences and Local Environments: Forestry and Forest Conservation in New Zealand, 1850s–1925’, in Forestry in the British Empire, Ed. V. Damodaran. Delhi: Primus Books, forthcoming.
- Beattie, J. & R. Bullen (2019). ‘Rewi Alley and the Art of Museum Diplomacy in Cold War China and New Zealand, 1949-1960s in China in Australasia: Cultural Diplomacy and the Collecting and Display of Chinese Arts since the Cold War, pp.46-61. Eds. J. Beattie, R. Bullen & M. Galikowski. London: Routledge.
- Beattie, J., Galikowski, M., & Bullen, R. (2019). ‘China and the Art of Cultural Diplomacy’, in China in Australasia: Cultural Diplomacy and the Collecting and Display of Chinese Arts since the Cold War, pp.1-17. Eds. J. Beattie, R. Bullen & M. Galikowski. London: Routledge.
Click here for a full publication list: James Beattie publications.
- I recently gave a public lecture: Chinese Merchant Networks, Migration and Environmental Transformation in the Southern Pacific, 1790s-1920s, at the Rachel Carson Center, Germany.
- Check out mine and Richard Bullen’s Marsden project on Chinese Art.
Recent invited talks include:
- ‘From Plunder to Archaeology and Antiques Markets: Collection, Exhibition, and Appreciation of Chinese artefacts in New Zealand, 1860-1940s’, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, 30 April 2019.
- ‘Chinese Resource Frontiers and Environmental Change in the Pacific, 1790s-1920s’, Sun Yat-sen University, September 2018.
- ‘A Garden on a Plate: Willow Pattern and World History’, Dunedin Chinese Gardens’ 10-year anniversary Scholars’ Celebration, 8 September 2018.