Anthropology Guest Lecture
Dr. Kathryn Rountree (Massey University, New Zealand)
Re-making the Maori Female Body: Marianne Williams's Mission in the Bay of Islands
date: Monday 17 January
time: 3.00 - 5.00 pm
venue: Lecture Centre Room 118 (University of Malta)
Everyone is welcome
In New Zealand, as elsewhere in the Pacific, the processes of conversion, civilisation and colonisation were intimately connected, and missionary wives, although portrayed as subordinated and shadowy figures in mission life, played a significant role in their achievement. This paper examines the case of Marianne Williams, an energetic and effective agent of the CMS mission, and a prolific, articulate writer who was the first woman to write at length about Maori. It considers Marianne's relationship with maori women (her assigned domain of responsibility in the mission), and examines in particular the ways in which this English woman constructed, and wished to reconstruct, Maori women's bodies. In her efforts to clean, clothe and control them, Marianne was preoccupied with covering and controlling Maori women's image and to draw them into the spiritual fold of Christianity, she paradoxically worked hard to maintain the social boundaries between missionaries and Maori, which Maori women learnt to cross with increasing adeptness as they moved between the European and Maori worlds.