My research and much of my applied work in the last ten years has centred on colonial and post-colonising (rather than post-colonial) settings.
My work has focussed on New Zealand, but has broader application in the Southern Hemisphere colonies of British settlement and in other analyses of colonial and imperial relations. In recent years this has shifted focus to highlight more contemporary international relations questions, especially emphasising boycotts and other coercive policy instruments.
My interests focus on the colonial distribution and circulation of body cultures and the responses of Indigenous and subaltern colonial peoples, sport focussed political activism, and sport as cultural practice, including in popular cultural texts and contexts.
In addition to these areas, I have an ongoing interest in play as a cultural and social practice, and as a socio-political trope.
In all cases, I look for ways to ensure that these projects have a transnational aspect, including through collaborative research and publication.
Developing Research Projects
Returning to the Fold: South Africa’s return to international sport. This project is an extension of my work on the anti-apartheid movement, and is being developed with colleagues in South Africa and the UK with possible inclusion of researchers in North America. Work to date on boycotts and sanctions has focussed on their development invocation. The South African case offers an excellent opportunity to explore what happens after a cultural boycott has been successful. There is a limited body of research work in this area, focussed mainly on rugby union linked to the 1995 (Men’s) Rugby World Cup and cricket. This has recently been identified as a significant gap in South African sports scholarship, where there is significant support for the development of this project.
Currently in initial planning stages:
Theorising Cultural Boycotts Boycotts are widely invoked in political campaigns, and used widely used, but have been a powerful weapon of the oppressed and of solidarity campaigns. Much of the literature is framed by legal discussions and by employment law, yet the last 50 years have seen the tactic deployed in a wide range of political campaigns that have drawn on and in some cases been centred on cultural sectors. The anti-apartheid movement made effective use of the tactic after the formation of a British based coordinating group in 1957. Since then the tactic has been invoked by campaigns as wide-spread as the Palestinian-based Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement since 2005, by cultural workers in support of workers’ rights in respect of institutional developments in the United Arab Emirates and in campaigns against oil company sponsorship of museums and art galleries. Despite the common focus and tactic in these campaigns there has been no dialogue between these sectors or developments of any common understanding. This project is initially based in a bid to bring together scholars and activists from these and other sectors to explore the potential for developing a common or at least improved understanding of cultural boycotts in activist campaigns and human rights struggles.
Books in development:
Symopsium: The Cambridge History of Sport (edited with Fiona Skillen), published by Cambridge University Press, due 2026. Sport, as a social, cultural and political practice, has become increasingly recognised across a range of scholarly fields, including history where the study of sport is woven into a discipline becoming more aware of the significance of leisure, pleasure, recreation and enjoyment in everyday life as making social and cultural worlds. At the same time, the historical study of sport is a maturing, increasingly self-critical field and a site of engagement with social and cultural histories, including histories of the state, politics, nations, modernity, economics and globalisms including imperialism and colonialism, as well as of dissent, resistance and survival/survivance. The Cambridge History of Sport explores these trends and developments through an up-to-date discussion and analysis of the key topics and themes in the history of sport while also challenging some of the field’s core presumptions and silences. Taking a global view and including established and emerging scholars while drawing on studies from across the world and across the chronology of the discipline, the authors unpack the field’s foundations and trajectories. By drawing together scholars who are at the forefront of research in the field, the collection will provide students and those new to the subject with an understanding of the fundamentals of the historiography, while also exploring the limits of some established frames of reference and provide a critical state of the art review of the subject and its connections to other aspects of the discipline. This combination of established and newly emerging areas of study will mean that this collection represents a landmark work written with the student in mind.
Monograph: Proposal for publication currently in development for University of Illinois Press. This explores the changing nature of Aotearoa/New Zealand’s colonial and imperial relationships – that is, those between New Zealand and Britain and between settler New Zealand and indigenous Māori – through an investigation of the debates and political campaigns surrounding the questions of sporting contact with South Africa. I argue that the potential for anti-colonial politics to emerge from the last of these campaigns in 1981 was stymied by the power of New Zealand’s colonial myths of nationhood. The principal focus is on settler colonial relations, that are understood for colonizers as primarily cultural and for the colonised as coercive. The argument is influenced by the Subaltern Studies ‘School’ analysis of the colonial state, and by recent trends in spatial and decolonial studies. The proposal locates this case study within a wider discussion of post-colonial analyses of sport.
Symposium: Sport & Indigenous Peoples in Settler Colonialism (provisional title, edited with Christine O’Bonsawin and Murray Phillips). We are developing a proposal for a collection as a historical exploration of sport and indigeneity in settler colonialism focusing on colonies of settlement in the British world, principally Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand.