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SEI News: Dr Alice Te Punga Somerville & ‘the (Indigenous) politics of gardening’

On Thursday 14 June 2018, Associate Professor Alice Te Punga Somerville (Te Atiawa, Taranaki) will be presenting the fifth lecture in the HumanNature Series called ‘Taupata, taro, roots, earth: the (Indigenous) politics of gardening’.

Taro Leaf Photographer: Rictor Norton & David Allen © Creative Commons - Some rights reserved

Alice Te Punga Somerville (Te Atiawa, Taranaki) is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Waikato, Aotearoa-New Zealand. Alice’s research focuses on Māori, Pacific and Indigenous people’s stories, and aims to highlight the foundations of these stories, as well as their complexity. An example of this is in Alice’s recent journal article titled ‘Where Oceans Come from’, published in the Duke University Press journal Comparative Literature, traces the various names used for the Pacific Ocean and draws on Pacific scholarship and poetry, as a way to suggest alternative genealogies for the field of Ocean Studies that are visible from the Pacific region.

Associate Professor Thom van Dooren, an organiser of the HumanNature Series shares that:

Alice Te Punga Somerville is a leading scholar of Māori and Pacific Indigenous literary and cultural studies. Her work takes up important questions about indigeneity, identity, colonisation, place, and storytelling in Aotearoa-New Zealand and beyond. She is interested in the stories that are told about and by the diverse Indigenous peoples of Oceania, stories that narrate lives, pasts, and possibilities. These stories, she shows us, are incredible resources not just for understanding, but for thinking and living otherwise. Readers interested in her work, especially in questions of Indigeneity and migration, might start with her fantastic book, Once Were Pacific: Māori Connections to Oceania (University of Minnesota Press, 2012).

Alice’s upcoming lecture will explore the histories and possibilities of Indigenous gardens in the Pacific region. For more information on Alice, and her research and publications, click here.

Also, check out the video of Alice speaking with SEI Co-Director Iain McCalman from the 2016 ‘Global Ecologies – Local Impacts Conference’ – the Sixth Biennial Conference of the Association for the Study of Literature, Environment & Culture, Australia & New Zealand (ASLEC-ANZ) in collaboration with the Sydney Environment Institute.


The HumanNature series is jointly funded and coordinated by the Australian Museum, the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University, Western Sydney University, and the University of Sydney. The Series features leading international scholars in the Environmental Humanities and aims to highlight the key research and developments to come out of the environmental humanities and will feature environmental humanities scholars who are renowned in their fields. Stay tuned for more profiles on keynote speakers in the months to come.

For more details and to purchase tickets for Taupata, taro, roots, earth: the (Indigenous) politics of gardening’, click here.

Please note that tickets are available to staff and students at the four partner universities at the discounted rate of $8. These tickets must be booked in advance using the discount code: ENVHUM18.