Making Microhistories – New Funding for Prof. Hallie Buckley

This week we’re celebrating success at Southern Cemeteries Archaeology. Our excavation co-director Prof. Hallie Buckley has just received a two-year James Cook fellowship from the Royal Society/ Te Apārangi to conduct in-depth study of the skeletons, and archival research relating to the project.

Prof. Hallie Buckley, co-director of our excavations and recipient of one of the recently-announced James Cook Fellowships

Hallie will be creating ‘osteobiographies’ of the skeletons excavated during our projects. This means she’ll be looking at the bones in detail for signs of illnesses and injuries experienced by colonists. She’ll also be looking at how they survived these hardships through the care of colonial communities.

In this research Hallie will be telling the individual stories of settlers who are generally not talked about in history class. She’s calling these individual stories ‘microhistories’, and will be focussing on the grassroots New Zealanders who made up early Pākehā society. In particular she’s hoping to tell the stories of women, children and marginalised groups whose voices are usually missing from historical accounts.

Hallie’s work is heavily community-focussed. She’s been at forefront of our consultation with local communities, churches and iwi as we’ve excavated and will be continuing those connections as she moves forward. Part of Hallie’s fellowship will be delving into local and family histories to try and better understand the communities that we’re studying.

By bringing together archival research and evidence from the skeletons themselves Hallie’s aiming to bring to life early colonial Otago in a way that hasn’t been attempted before. As she reveals people’s stories she’ll be compiling them into a book to give the public back these lost voices.

Charlotte King, 1st Nov 2019

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