Co-Editors: Dr Lara Greaves and Professor Jennifer Curtin
E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā karangatanga maha, tēnā koutou katoa.
A lot has happened since we signed on to be editors of the 2020 issue of Women Talking Politics. 2020 was a challenging year for us, and likely for the majority of women working in the political studies space. Many balanced work and whānau commitments alongside the pandemic and its associated challenges.
You may have noticed that this edition covers both 2020-2021. This decision was made for numerous reasons, not least because of the added pressures on women academics over this time period. Thus, some of the pieces included here were submitted during 2020: the order of each section of the issue begins with those submitted earlier and ends with those submitted later. Some of the authors opted to update their work for late 2021, whereas others did not - leaving the work as a time capsule of sorts.
Our peer-reviewed section contains seven articles authored by early, mid-career, and senior women scholars from around Aotearoa New Zealand. Several speak to themes of crisis, change and leadership in what has become a challenging international context, for international relations, and in terms of the pandemic. Others address questions of what is required to advance diverse and effective representation for Māori and migrant women, descriptively, substantively, and symbolically.
Manqing Cheng discusses the ways in which COVID-19 has increased the potential for backsliding on globalisation and multilateralism; through increased protectionism, rising populism, and a potential for focusing increasingly on traditional economic issues pushing aside pressing non-traditional security issues. Mengdi Zhang’s paper also examines an element of international relations, specifically political implications, and diplomatic dimensions of China’s request for extradition of Kyung Yup Kim, a Korean-born New Zealand permanent resident. Regional politics is a feature of Gay Francisco’s analysis of the leadership and rhetoric of two starkly different leaders, Jacinda Ardern and President President Rodrigo Duterte, during their respective COVID-19 lockdown responses in 2020. Heather Devere also explores the power of language through her analysis of the concepts of kindness, compassion and peace, and the extent to which Ardern’s political rhetoric can connect these concepts in a meaningful way.
Two essays discuss findings from their respective pilot projects on the experiences of migrant and ethnic women in politics and during the pandemic. Rachel Simon-Kumar and Priya Kurian examine the continuing barriers to participating in the formal political arena, and the challenges associated with an adversarial Westminster system where ethnic women politicians often experience their roles as marginalised among minorities. The essay reports on a series of discussions with ethnic women candidates whose personalised experiences of this marginalisation highlight how much more work is required for our polity to be wholly inclusive. Meanwhile Barbara Bedeschi-Lewando, Gauri Nandedkar, Sylvia Lima, Shirin Brown, Ema Tagicakibau, Ann Afadama and Randolph Hollingsworth describe early findings of their research into the socio-economic and political implications of COVID-19 on migrant and ethnic women in Aotearoa. The voices of the women reported in this essay reveal both hardship and strength in response to the range of challenges that resulted from the pandemic and the associated lockdowns. Jemma Greenhill’s insightful contribution reminds us that ‘feminism’ as a concept and a practice is not interchangeable between culture, providing a timely analysis of the way that Mana Wahine can be an important tool in decolonising Western feminism while also revealing disparities between Māori and Pākehā. Finally, the issue contains Hanna Thompson’s essay on pay disparity for Māori nurses from a Mana Wahine lens. Thompson’s essay won the 2020 NZPSA undergraduate prize in Māori politics.
The issue also contains a range of research briefs authored by women political studies scholars, emerging and established. Heather Tribe reflects on the changes to her PhD given travel restrictions, to instead focus on the gendered impacts of disasters in Aotearoa. Peyton Bond describes her PhD project on the workplace experiences of indoor sex workers in Aotearoa, discusses the coding and analysis process, and the challenges that sex workers face. Lydia Le Gros discusses her masters research on the language of New Zealand’s counterterrorism discourse. Danella Glass, a new PhD student at Otago, discusses her upcoming work on the continuing conflict between two rival transnational normative communities in the area of sexual and reproductive rights. Oluwakemi Igiebor discusses her recently completed PhD research on a feminist institutionalist approach to academic institutions in Nigeria. Nashie Shamoon provides an overview of her Masters work on the identity of young Assyrian New Zealanders and Australians, and their connections to historical struggle and persecution. Lastly, Rose Cole describes an overview and her approach to her thesis on the role of private secretaries in minister’s offices in New Zealand. We can be assured that despite the challenges of the pandemic, the future of women’s political studies’ contributions is very bright!
Alongside this, a number of women political science academics authored and edited books during the pandemic, and progressed funded projects; a small fraction of whom discuss their work here. Lara Greaves, Janine Hayward, and Claire Timperley who describe the journey to publish Government and Politics in Aotearoa New Zealand while Maria Armoudian describes her book, Lawyers Beyond Borders, which explores the ways in which lawyers have advanced human rights abuse cases through international courts. Priya Kurian describes her two-year project with colleagues on the perspectives of Māori and non-Māori on gene-editing technologies, an increasingly important policy issue.
Two emerging scholars discuss their innovative current research projects. We hear from recent MBIE Te Whitinga post-doctoral fellowship recipient Sylvia Frain, who describes her upcoming work with Fiona Amundsen on the legacies of nuclear imperialisms across Oceania. Mona Krewel describes the New Zealand Social Media study, which started across the 2020 General Election and provides a great base for ongoing work monitoring the social media communications of politicians and parties in Aotearoa.
The issue also contains a stimulating and timely creative piece. Shirin Brown provides an excerpt from her script The Me Not Movement from the Short and Sweet Theatre Festival 2019. Brown’s spirited script touches on many pertinent themes for the current times including reproductive rights, the climate, and inequality.
Finally, the issue contains two book reviews. A review from Esme Hall covers Coleman’s From Suffrage to a Seat in the House: A Path to Parliament for New Zealand Women (Otago University Press). Esme provides a detailed overview of the events, debates, and perspectives covered in the book, and some of its limitations. Lara Greaves provides a light-hearted review of Hill’s Taking the Lead: How Jacinda Wowed the World (Picture Puffin), a beautifully illustrated children’s book which covers Ardern’s life and early years as Prime Minister.
The editors would like to acknowledge the generous support and help of the New Zealand Political Studies Association (NZPSA) Te Kāhui Tātai Tōrangapū o Aotearoa, including President Patrick Barrett, Executive Secretary Peter Skilling, and Treasurer Jack Vowles. We would like to thank the immediate past editor, Sarah Bickerton for her assistance, and our cover image. Our thanks also go to our research assistant Frank Gore for his help with proofreading and formatting, and to our colleagues who took the time to review the articles included here.
Lastly, we would also like to thank the contributors for their excellent pieces and efforts in trying times. We are pleased to have brought together a collection of pieces that are diverse in career stage and areas of the discipline.
Ngā mihi ki ngā kaituhi me kaipānui o Women Talking Politics,
Dr Lara Greaves and Professor Jennifer Curtin University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau