Jacob Culbertson

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Haverford College

Grant number

Gr. 9499

Approve Date

September 29, 2017

Project Title

Culbertson, Dr. Jacob H., Haverford College, Haverford, PA - To aid research and writing on 'Recombinant Indigeneities: Maori Environmental Design and the Architecture of Biculturalism' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Recombinant Indigeneities: Maori Environmental Design and the Architecture of Biculturalism traces a series of controversies around the use of Maori architectural images and concepts in urban public space in New Zealand. The main plotline follows the planning and construction of three infrastructure projects–the so-called ‘Maori elements’– in the ‘pop-up’ entertainment district along Auckland’s waterfront for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. I show that these building projects are pervaded by contentious disagreements among a wide variety of actors–architects, bureaucrats, and their publics, both Maori and not–around what counts as a Maori design or way of designing and who gets to decide. The larger premise of the book is that these contests and their logics articulate the wider, entangled politics of expertise, indigeneity, and public participation that facilitates and limits the work of professional Maori environmental designers in building the city from their unique indigenous perspectives. The book is thus also an ethnography of New Zealand’s burgeoning ‘post-settlement era,’ by which the government is racing to settle all outstanding treaty claims and work with Maori on an equitable, collaborative basis, as opposed to the paradigm of grievances that has defined this relationship since the neoliberal reforms of the 1980s. Grounded in three years of fieldwork among professional architects and traditional woodcarvers, the narrative rests on an ethnographic inversion: rather than treating traditional Maori meeting houses as objects of anthropological insight, I take the spatial language and ceremonial performances of these buildings as an indigenous model of comparison that reconfigures relationships among people, landscapes, and buildings.