Geometries of Life

Barber, Simon. 2018. Geometries of Life. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Geometries of Life)
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Abstract or Description

The central concern of my thesis is the ongoing colonial encounter between Māori and
Pākehā (European settlers). It seeks to translate perspective across Māori and Pākehā
worlds without subordinating either world to the terms of the other.

The condition of possibility for the work has been my encounter with an other, or
outside, of my own thinking at two wānanga (Māori places of learning). Study at these
wānanga, and living in the Māori place of Pōrangahau, has constituted a
non-ethnographic fieldwork, or field geotheory, that provides the generative ground of
the thesis. My learning at these places enabled me to detail a constellation of Māori
concepts, making possible a sketch of some of the patternings of Māori life and thinking,
and opening me up to an experimental inhabitation and use of those concepts.

In the two chapters following the introduction – ‘Māori Geometries’ and ‘Pākehā
Geometries’ – I describe something of the basal motifs of Māori and Pākehā worlds:
reproduction and monetary exchange, respectively. In each account, the central motif
described is both a patterning traced by a mode of life and an epistemological diagram
of the structures of thought that co-constitute with(in) that pattern.

The third and fourth chapters follow the clash and entanglement of these two
worlds through historic and ongoing processes of colonial encounter. My specific focus
is Te Waipounamu (the South Island), where my people Kāi Tahu are from. The third
chapter is concerned with the way in which the land has become commodified and
subject to the inscriptions of private property. The fourth chapter tracks a set of ideas
that arrive and become indigenised, finding fertile ground in the land reconfigured as
commodity, resulting in an indigenous neoliberalism.

A final chapter works with with the notebooks Marx kept of his readings on
indigenous societies in the last few years of his life. It also conducts a reading of Marx
from the perspective of the Māori concepts described in the first chapter. Through
double-directional reading I imagine a Māori Mārx, sketching some of the contours of
the theory she might produce.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Aotearoa, New Zealand, Indigenous Theory, Postcolonial Theory, Settler Colonial Studies, Māori, Pākehā, Epistemology, Ontology, Marx, Ngāi Tahu, Kāi Tahu, Sohn-rethel, Exchange

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures > Centre for Research Architecture


31 July 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

21 Sep 2018 15:21

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:14


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