Entanglements of Empire

Missionaries, Maori, and the Question of the Body

Entanglements of Empire

Book Pages: 376 Illustrations: 11 illustrations Published: December 2014

Author: Tony Ballantyne

History > World History, Native and Indigenous Studies, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

The first Protestant mission was established in New Zealand in 1814, initiating complex political, cultural, and economic entanglements with Maori. Tony Ballantyne shows how interest in missionary Christianity among influential Maori chiefs had far-reaching consequences for both groups. Deftly reconstructing cross-cultural translations and struggles over such concepts and practices as civilization, work, time and space, and gender, he identifies the physical body as the most contentious site of cultural engagement, with Maori and missionaries struggling over hygiene, tattooing, clothing, and sexual morality. Entanglements of Empire is particularly concerned with how, as a result of their encounters in the classroom, chapel, kitchen, and farmyard, Maori and the English mutually influenced each other’s worldviews. Concluding in 1840 with New Zealand’s formal colonization, this book offers an important contribution to debates over religion and empire.


“[O]utstanding and very readable book…. [T]his is a profound and close reading of an essential period of cultural interaction in our history.” — Nicholas Reid, Reid's Reader Blog

 "[T]his is a work of considerable depth and value.… Ballantyne’s work will in the future be essential reading for anyone wishing to understand and engage in this discussion." — Vincent O’Malley, H-Empire, H-Net Reviews

"In Entanglements of Empire professor Ballantyne—an authority on the cultural history of the British Empire—reconstructs the complex cultural, political and economic interactions between Maori and the colonizers from 1814 to 1840. Far from the one-way exchange we often imagine, Ballantyne explores a captivating history of interdependence (and, of course, tension)." — Morgan Godfery, Dominion Post Weekend

"Ballantyne presents his complex, theoretically informed history with admirable skill and a persuasive authorial voice.... Scholars interested in the history of the British Empire and its impact on indigenous peoples will find this a fine study of imperial relations within one small and distant colony-in-waiting. He is to be congratulated on this very considerable achievement." — Patricia Grimshaw, American Historical Review

"This elegantly written and brilliantly argued book further enhances Tony Ballantyne’s reputation as New Zealand’s leading historian, as well as a major scholar of imperial and global histories.... Entanglements of Empire is a landmark text that makes a vitally important contribution to the fields of New Zealand and British imperial history. It offers historians a new set of conceptual tools for approaching cross-cultural engagements in the past; provides fresh perspectives on the missionary project in Te Ika a Ma¯ui; and reminds us that struggles over the materiality of the body – over work, sharing food, intimacy, illness, death and so on – merit serious scholarly attention." — Lyndon Fraser, Social History

"[An] extraordinarily interesting book.... I am convinced by Ballantyne’s argument that missionaries ‘neither destroyed Maori culture nor left it untouched’ (257). And, I am intrigued by the contemporary politics of the entangled history of Europeans andMaori, and fascinated to learn that missionary concerns about the body as expressed in co-produced biblical translations remain in use by some people today." — Clare Anderson, Australian Historical Studies

"I recommend Entanglements of Empire to scholars interested in the history of the British Empire, Oceania, and Christian missions. Well balanced, carefully articulated, and always insightful, it is likely to become a definitive work on the complexities of Protestant mission efforts in the region and beyond." — Matt Tomlinson, Comparative Studies in Society and History

"Entanglements moves backwards and forwards in a complex dance among actors, events and writing situated in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the empire....[T]his is a finely produced book, a delight to read." — Michael P. J. Reilly, Journal of Pacific History

"In this lucid and nuanced rereading of the missionary archive in early New Zealand, Tony Ballantyne makes impressively wide-ranging arguments about the centrality of the body to the thickening 'entanglements' between indigenous peoples and British evangelists between 1814 and 1840. . . . An important and useful book, Ballantyne’s methodological argument in particular deserves the engagement of those exploring the history of the body and other imperial sites of power and entanglement." — Miranda Johnson, Journal of the History of Sexuality

"[T]his is a welcome contribution to histories of religion and empire and to our understanding of cross-cultural 'entanglement.'" — Philippa Mein Smith, Church History

"Ballantyne’s real originality lies in his reconstruction of a Maori cosmology, morality, and cultural system; the ways in which British evangelicalism interacted with and changed that system of thought; and the ways in which British evangelicalism was influenced and changed by Maori culture, customs, and philosophies. This is an outstanding achievement, the consequence of wide reading, deep imaginative thinking, and a commitment to Greg Dening’s call for an ethnography and history of both sides of the frontier." — Anna Johnston, Journal of British Studies

"Ballantyne’s Entanglements of Empire is without doubt an impressive book, which makes a highly worthwhile new contribution to historical writing on Maori and missionaries." — Stuart Lange, Stimulus

"This book is an important, significant addition to the growing library of works examining the early period of contact between Maori and colonising Europeans." — David Edmunds, Northern Advocate

"In one volume, Entanglements of Empire showcases most of the characteristics that Ballantyne’s work has been praised for. It weaves between the personal and the political and it seamlessly travels from local to global vantage points. Without any rupture in the ?ow of narrative, it incorporates insightful minutiae on the one hand . . . and discussions of imperial geo-strategy on the other hand." — Alan Lester, European Review of History

"Ballantyne's latest book is careful with detail, yet clearly pushes scholarship in mission history in new directions, with relevance for several research communities." — Kirstie Close-Barry, Social Science and Missions

"Ballantyne's archival prowess and mastery of imperial historiography mean that this important period in New Zealand's history has been brought before a new audience." — Caroline Daley, Journal of the Polynesian Society

“This new work by Tony Ballantyne offers an elegant and timely intervention into the ways we write about the colonial project that shaped the Pacific world.” — Sean Cosgrove, Journal of Religious History

"Tony Ballantyne's account of the encounter in what was to eventually become New Zealand between European missionaries and the various groups of Polynesians who were to become Maori is a richly interesting book. Ballantyne, an innovative historian who consistently works across and between the traditions of imperial history and national historiographies, here offers a book that is original, well researched, and deeply connected to current debates in studies of imperialism and New Zealand’s cultural history."
— Catherine Hall, author of Macaulay and Son: Architects of Imperial Britain

"Tony Ballantyne is at the forefront of New Zealand history, one of the most important historians of the British empire, and a key figure in the study of global history. His Entanglements of Empire is an extremely exciting book. Written clearly and cogently argued, it will find interest among multiple readerships, including historians of colonialism and settlement, religion, sexuality, cross-cultural studies, transnationalism, and empire." — Damon Salesa, author of Racial Crossings: Race, Intermarriage, and the Victorian British Empire


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Tony Ballantyne is Professor of History at the University of Otago. He is the author or editor of many books, including Between Colonialism and Diaspora: Sikh Cultural Formations in an Imperial World and Bodies in Contact: Rethinking Colonial Encounters in World History, both also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction. Bodies in Contact, Bodies in Question 1

1. Exploration, Empire, and Evangelization 26

2. Making Place, Reordering Space 65

3. Economics, Labor, and Time 98

4. Containing Transgression 138

5. Cultures of Death 174

6. The Politics of the "Enfeebled" Body 214

Conclusion. Bodies and the Entanglemetns of Empire 251

Notes 261

Glossary 313

Bibliography 317

Index 343
Sales/Territorial Rights: World exc New Zealand

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5826-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5817-6
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