Associate Professor's book short-listed for major history award

Thursday 5 July 2012, 3:19PM
By University of Auckland

Racial Crossings: Race, Intermarriage, and the Victorian British Empire, by Associate Professor Damon Ieremia Salesa from the Centre for Pacific Studies at The University of Auckland, has been short-listed for the prestigious Ernest Scott Prize.

The Ernest Scott Prize is awarded annually to the book judged to be the most distinguished contribution to the history of Australia or New Zealand or to the history of colonisation.

Widely acknowledged as the first Rhodes Scholar of Pacific descent, Associate Professor Salesa says, “I feel honoured to have returned to New Zealand and to The University of Auckland after being at The University of Michigan for the past 10 years – and now to also know my book has been short-listed for the Ernest Scott Prize is particularly pleasing.”

Director of the Centre of Pacific Studies, Mr Walter Fraser, echoes this sentiment, saying “the fact that Racial Crossings: Race, Intermarriage, and the Victorian British Empire has been short-listed for such a prestigious award is a huge achievement in itself. To be short-listed is a good indication of the high esteem in which Associate Professor Salesa is held by his peers here in New Zealand and internationally”.

Past winners from The University of Auckland have included Professor Keith Sinclair (1958), Emeritus Professor Dame Anne Salmond (1990-1991, 1998) and Professor Jamie Belich (2002).

Published by Oxford University Press, Associate Professor Salesa’s book is described in the citation as “a landmark contribution to the scholarship on race and racial boundaries within modern imperial regimes.”

The citation goes on to say: “while he carefully explores imperial anxieties about the permeability of racial boundaries, Salesa also recovers the largely neglected story of those metropolitan observers, colonial officials and intellectuals, missionaries, humanitarians and indigenous leaders who stressed the progressive and productive potential of ‘racial crossings’. Marshalling meticulous archival work as well as a masterful set of historiographical reflections, Salesa offers a fundamental reassessment of racial thought and state practice within the Victorian empire.”

Other works short listed for this year’s award include: God’s Empire: Religion and Colonialism in the British World, c. 1801-1908 by Hilary Carey, Strong, Beautiful and Modern: National Fitness in Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, 1935-1960 by Charlotte Macdonald; An Eye for Eternity: The life of Manning Clark by Mark McKenna; Oceania under steam: Sea transport and the cultures of colonialism, c. 1870-1914 by Frances Steel and The Many Worlds of R. H. Mathews: In search of an Australian anthropologist by Martin Thomas.

Associate Profesor Damon Salesa completed his B.A and M.A in History at The University of Auckland and then went on to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar where he completed his D.Phil in 2001.

The winner of the 2012 Earnest Scott Prize will be announced at the annual Australian History Association Conference in Adelaide on 12 July 2012.