Associate Professor Avril Bell

PhD in Sociology (Massey)

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Associate Professor


I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Auckland and my PhD at Massey University. My first academic position was in the Education Deaprtment at the University of Auckland. I then held a position in Sociology at Massey University for many years before returning to Sociology at Auckland. My doctoral thesis explored the ongoing impact of colonialism on the construction of Māori and Pākehā identities and on the relationships between the two peoples. More broadly, the identity politics of the relationships between indigenous and settler peoples are at the heart of my research interests. In 2014 I published a book on these issues: Relating Indigenous and Settler Identities: Beyond Domination. My teaching centres on related isuses - the study of cultural identities ('race', ethnicity, naitonal identity, indigeneity), indigenous-settler relations and the sociological analysis of New Zealand society.

Research | Current

  • Legacy of colonization in indigenous-settler identity politics & relations
  • Strategies for decolonization
  • Responsibilities of settler peoples toward decolonization, and especially the possibilities of postcolonial ethics

Teaching | Current

SOCIOL 101 Understanding Aotearoa New Zealand

SOCIOL 213 Ethnicity and Identity

SOCIOL 746 Recognition and Reconciliation in Settler Societies

Postgraduate supervision

I have supervised a number of students researching issues of identity politics and settler colonialism explored through anlaysis of the media and through interview based research. I have a background of research in a range of methods of textual and visual analysis - especially critical discourse analysis and semiotics, but also survey research.

I am interested in supervising projects that explore the legacies of colonialism and strategies of decolonization and in projects that exlore issues of ethnicity, immigration, racism, national identity, biculturalism and multiculturalism.. I am very interested in posthumanist theories for their use in highlighting the importance of relational thinking to understanding both human-human and human-non-human relations. I am also very interested in the work of Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida on the interactions of ethical obligations and politics and in applying this work to settler colonial contexts in particular.


PhD Adviser, Sociology & Criminology

Areas of expertise

critical discourse analysis, settler colonialism, indigenous-settler relations, Levinasian ethics, the ethics and politics of decolonization

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Bell, A. (2017). Moving roots: A "small story" of settler history and home places. Qualitative Inquiry, 23 (6), 452-457. 10.1177/1077800416672696
  • Bell, A. (2017). Working from where we are: a response from Aotearoa New Zealand. Higher Education Research & Development, 36 (1), 16-20. 10.1080/07294360.2017.1249066
  • Bell, S. A., Elizabeth, V., McIntosh, T., & Wynyard, M. (Eds.) (2017). A Land of Milk & Honey? Making Sense of Aotearoa New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press. Pages: 336.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Vivienne Elizabeth, Tracey McIntosh
  • Bell, A. (2016). Te Ahu - a meeting place. Sites: a journal of social anthropology and cultural studies, 13 (2), 25-25. 10.11157/sites-vol13iss2id327
  • Bell, A. (2016). Decolonizing conviviality and ‘becoming ordinary’: cross-cultural face-to-face encounters in Aotearoa New Zealand. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 39 (7), 1170-1186. 10.1080/01419870.2015.1103883
  • Bell, S. A. (2014). Relating Indigenous and Settler Identities: Beyond Domination. Houndsmill, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Pages: 262. Related URL.
  • Bell, A. (2010). Being 'at home' in the nation: Hospitality and sovereignty in talk about immigration. Ethnicities, 10 (2), 236-256. 10.1177/1468796810361653
  • Bell, A. (2009). Dilemmas of settler belonging: roots, routes and redemption in New Zealand national identity claims. SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW, 57 (1), 145-162. 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2008.01808.x