Picturing difference. An investigation of Maori women’s characters in New Zealand picturebooks
Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Children’s books have been around since the early 1500s. They reflect the traditionalvalues of the times, yet they still serve as a socializing tool transmitting values from onegeneration to the next in today’s society (Gooden and Gooden 2001). Only in the latteryears of the twentieth century has the picturebook become a serious object of academicstudy (Lewis 2001). Researchers began to take notice of the (under-) representation ofwomen in children’s books and asserted commonly that reducing sexism in children’sreading materials is crucial for developing an equitable and democratic society.Although previous research has examined the representation of gender and race inchildren’s literature extensively, there is, however, a major gap, focusing on theportrayal of New Zealand’s indigenous Polynesian people – specifically, the Maoriwoman. Little is known about the visibility of Maori women in print media (Evans1994) and even less about their depiction in children’s picturebooks. In order to addressthis gap in the literature, this paper investigates the visual and verbal representation ofMaori women in contemporary New Zealand picturebooks. Following the theories ofPeter L. Berger, Thomas Luckmann and George Herbert Mead I developed a modelillustrating the circular process of picturebook communication. Moreover those theoriesserve as a theoretical framework, constituting the subsequent content analysis. As Iexamined the characters of Maori women in different New Zealand picturebooks, Iidentified three typifications, constituting the identity of an indigenous New Zealandwoman in those narratives. The Teacher, the Entertainer and the Spiritual Maori womanreinvent and reproduce, yet delimit and constrain the identity of Maori women incontemporary picturebooks. Those books fail to intertwine and integrate the twodiffering cultures of Maori and Pakeha (New Zealander of European descent), in theirstoryline, and neglect current struggles or conflicts in the social reality of New Zealand.Based on one outstanding book, I drew the conclusion that it is through integrating thetwo differing symbolic universes of Pakeha and Maori into the storyline, that themultiple roles carried by Maori women can be acknowledged and an authentic portrayalof Maori women is achieved.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 122 p.
New Zealand, picturebooks, content analysis, social construction, gender
Kinderbücher, Sozialkonstruktionismus, Neuseeland, Kolonialismus
Media and Communications
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-176511OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-176511DiVA: diva2:535671
Subject / course
Art, Education and Media
Master Programme in Social Sciences
UppsokSocial and Behavioural Science, Law