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. I am currently involved in two major research projects - a Masden-funded exploration of non-indigenous Treaty partnershp/decolonisation work and a critical settler family history exloring my own family's role in the settler colonial project. My teaching centres on related isuses - the study of cultural identities ('race', ethnicity, national 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
  • Critical settler family history

Teaching | Current

SOCIOL 746 Settler Societies and Indigenous Peoples


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, archival research

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.
  • Hoskins, T. K., & Bell, A. (2020). Being Present: Embodying Political Relations in Indigenous Encounters with the Crown. CONTEMPORARY POLITICAL THEORY10.1057/s41296-020-00439-9
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Te Kawehau Hoskins
  • Bell, A. (2020). Reverberating Historical Privilege of a 'Middling" Sort of Settler Family. Genealogy, 4 (2)10.3390/genealogy4020046
  • Bell, A. (2018). This is one step: Rural Pākehā talk about treaty settlements and beyond. New Zealand Sociology, 33 (3), 109-131.
  • Bell, A. (2018). More than just symbols: Resurfacing indigenous place in the Far North of Aotearoa New Zealand. Archiving Settler Colonialism: Culture, Space and Race (pp. 19-35). 10.4324/9781351142045
  • Bell, S. A. (2018). A flawed Treaty partner: The New Zealand state, local government and the politics of recognition. In D. Howard-Wagner, M. Bargh, I. Altamirano-Jimenez (Eds.) The neoliberal state, recognition and indigenous rights: New paternalism to new imaginings (pp. 77-91). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press. 10.22459/CAEPR40.07.2018.04
  • 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). Co-existing indigenous and settler worlds: Ontological styles and possibilities. Journal of New Zealand Studies, 24, 15-24.
  • Bell, A. (2017). Imagining Aotearoa New Zealand: The politics of national imaginings. In S. A. Bell, V. Elizabeth, T. McIntosh, M. Wynyard (Eds.) A land of milk and honey?: Making sense of Aotearoa New Zealand (pp. 57-68). Auckland: Auckland University Press.