Webs of Empire

Webs of Empire

Locating New Zealand’s Colonial Past

Spread across the nineteenth-century colonial world was a tangled web of cultural and economic networks. In groundbreaking research, Tony Ballantyne positions New Zealand within these ‘webs of empire’, connecting Gore and Chicago, Māori and Asia, India and newspapers, whalers and writing. His work breaks open the narrative of colonisation to offer sharp new perspectives on New Zealand history.

Bringing together essays from two decades of prolific publishing on international colonial history, Webs of Empire demonstrates why Tony Ballantyne is one of the most influential historians working in New Zealand today.

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Table of contents

Introduction: Relocating Colonial Histories

Reframing Colonialism
1. Race and the Webs of Empire
2. Writing Out Asia
3. Teaching Māori About Asia
4. India in New Zealand
5. Te Anu’s Story
6. Sealers, Whalers and the Entanglements of Empire
7. Christianity, Colonisation and Cross-Cultural Communication
8. War, Knowledge and the Crisis of Empire
9. Archives, Empires and Histories of Colonialism
10. Mr Peal’s Archive
11. Paper, Pen and Print
12. Writing and the Culture of Colonisation
13. Thinking Local
14. On Place, Space and Mobility

Conclusion: Writing the Colonial Past

Print publication:
Ebook publication: Dec 2015
Pages: 374
RRP: $49.99
ISBN: 9781927131435
ISTC: A0220120000214F3
DOI: 10.7810/9781927131435

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Read New Zealand Books' review here.

Listen to Tony Ballantyne discuss his new book with Radio Waatea.

Read Landfall's review of Webs of Empire here.


'The ideas are so fresh that many readers will finish one chapter eager to see what discoveries will be unveiled in the next.' Paul Little, North and South, February 2013.

'Over the last decade Tony Ballantyne has driven forward a new vision of colonial history ... This book shows how, in reshaping our understanding of New Zealand's place in the world, he has also reconfigured Britain's imperial history.' Alan Lester, Professor of Historical Geography, University of Sussex

'Webs of Empire demonstrates his archival richness and mastery of his profession, provoking new interpretations of history and of historians. This is compelling and essential reading.' Lydia Wevers, Professor and Director of the Stout Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington

'Admired by so many historians for his prescient metaphor of the webs of empire, here in Webs of Empire Ballantyne strums the silken strands that bind New Zealand and New Zealanders to so many histories – so many more than we know or acknowledge.' Damon Salesa, Associate Professor, Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Auckland.


Shortlisted for the 2013 Ernest Scott Prize