Associate Professor Katherine Smits

BJur, BA(Hons) (Western Australia), MPhil (Cambridge), MA, PhD (Cornell)

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Head of School


  • Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations

Katherine Smits graduated with degrees in law and arts from the University of Western Australia.  She served with the Australian foreign service and was posted in Belgrade, in the former Yugoslavia.  She then completed a MPhil. in International Relations at Cambridge, and a PhD in Government at Cornell Univerity (2000).

Dr. Smits taught at Miami University in the USA before joining the Political Studies Department at Auckland in 2004. She is the author of several articles on liberalism and identity politics, and of Reconstructing Post-Nationalist Liberal Pluralism: From Interest to Identity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) and Applying Political Theory (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.)

She is currently working on projects exploring multiculturalism, biculturalism and national identity in New Zealand, and comparative multiculturalism policies in New Zealand, Australia and Britain.  

Dr. Smits teaches undergraduate courses on historical and contemporary political thought, social justice and nationalism.   She teaches a graduate course on multiculturalism and identity politics.

Research | Current

  • Contemporary political ideas
  • Justice
  • Equality
  • The history of political ideas
  • Identity politics and multiculturalism
  • Women and politics

My areas of research interest include:

  • Contemporary and historical liberal theory; Multiculturalism and Identity Politics; Nationalism; Imperialism and political thought; Feminist Theory; Deliberative democracy; Reconciliation and restorative justice.

I am currently working on two research projects:

  • A comparative study of policy and discourse concerning cultural diversity in New Zealand, Australia and Britain
  • an examination of multiculturalism, biculturalism and national identity in New Zealand.

Teaching | Current

POLITICS 109 Foundations of Western Politics and Law

POLITICS 320 Social Justice

Postgraduate supervision


Dr. Smits works with students from the BA(Hons) dissertation level to PhDs, who have had some background in undergraduate theory courses. She is interested in supervising projects in the broad areas of historical and contemporary political theory, particularly in aspects of liberalism, pluralism and multiculturalist theory. She also works with students researching identity politics and gender, ethnic and minority rights issues, in a wide range of national contexts.  Students might consider examining the political claims made by particular ethnic, cultural or religious minorities, and the relationship of these claims to identity politics theory.

Several projects Dr. Smits has supervised apply aspects of contemporary theory on race, ethnicity or gender to indigenous and ethnic groups in the New Zealand or comparative context.

Areas of expertise

Politics and political theory

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Smits, K., & Bruce, S. (2015). Feminist Moments Reading Feminist Texts. Bloomsbury Publishing. Pages: 240.
  • Smits, K. (2014). The Neoliberal State and the Uses of Indigenous Culture. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, 20 (1), 43-62. 10.1080/13537113.2014.879764
  • Smits, K., & Jansen, A. (2012). Staging the nation at expos and world's fairs. National Identities, 14 (2), 173-188. 10.1080/14608944.2012.677817
  • Smits, K. (2011). Justifying multiculturalism: Social justice, diversity and national identity in Australia and New Zealand. Australian Journal of Political Science, 46 (1), 87-103. 10.1080/10361146.2011.546051
  • Smits, K. (2009). Applying political theory : issues and debates. Basingstoke England ; New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2009..
  • Smits, K. (2009). The Politics of Biculturalism. In R. Miller (Ed.) New Zealand Government & Politics (pp. ). Auckland, N.Z.: Oxford University Press.
  • Smits, K. (2008). John Stuart Mill on the antipodes: Settler violence against indigenous peoples and the legitimacy of colonial rule. AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF POLITICS AND HISTORY, 54 (1), 1-15. 10.1111/j.1467-8497.2008.00480.x
  • Smits, K. (2008). Deliberation and Past Injustice: Recognition and the Reasonableness of Apology in the Australian Case. Constellations, 15 (2), 236-248. 10.1111/j.1467-8675.2008.00487.x


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 5, Room 506
New Zealand

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