Bringing the New Philology to Pacific Legal History


  • Richard P Boast



This article is a study of the main features of the so-called new philology, a school of historians based mainly in the United States who have pioneered a novel approach to the history of indigenous societies under colonial rule by focusing on day-to-day "mundane" texts, typically legal documents or documents preserved in legal records, written in indigenous languages. It is suggested that New Zealand provides a unique opportunity to experiment with the approaches of the new philology outside Latin America as it meets the basic requirement of having preserved a significant amount of written documentation recorded in an indigenous language. What such a study might reveal is unclear, but the overall conclusion is that it should certainly be attempted. One weakness of the new philology, however, is that while it is based strongly on legal documents, it does not engage with law or with legal processes as such.


Download data is not yet available.




How to Cite

Boast, R. P. (2011). Bringing the New Philology to Pacific Legal History. Victoria University of Wellington Law Review, 42(2), 399–416.