Entanglements of Empire: Missionaries, Maori, and the Question of the Body
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.
Cultures of Death
Death and deathways occupied a central position in the collision between bodily regimes on the New Zealand frontier. For missionaries understanding Māori views of death was a crucial element in their attempts to create a vernacularized Christianity in northern New Zealand. These beliefs, of course, were the very things that the missionaries hoped to reshape, reform or supplant with a new cosmology built around the conflict between good and evil, God’s love, and atoning power of Christ’s sacrifice. However Māori never passively accepted these new interpretations of the order of things. Although some key elements of evangelical belief and practice gained rapid ground in the 1830s, the transformation of Māori deathways was only partial; it was the negotiated outcome of both sustained cross-cultural conversations about what it is to human and fraught, occasionally violent, conflicts over the ways in which death should be understood and managed. This chapter reconstructs these cross-cultural struggles and also pays particular attention to the ways in which missionaries themselves struggled to transplant their British deathways to the furthest edge of empire.