Erik Olssen, Clyde Griffen, Frank Jones

Erik Olssen, with by Sharon Dell and Tom Brooking [left], launch the new book on Richard Seddon.

An Accidental Utopia?: Social Mobility and the Foundations of an Eglitarian Society, 1880–1940

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  • Roughly halfway through Dunedin historian Erik Olssen's latest book, , there is an illustration of perhaps two dozen men taking a quick break in Reid & Gray's foundry.

    Dunedin historian Erik Olssen's latest book captures Dunedin workers in an intimate light, while also celebrating the art of the photographer, writes Shane Gilchrist.

  • Professor Jonathan Boston argues that the core idea of egalitarianism is that all human beings “are equal in some fundamental respect or, at the very least, should be assumed to have equal moral value or equal dignity regardless of their ethnicity, gender, age and so forth”. In the 19th century, for Pakeha working men at least, there was "a powerful sense that greater equality was a good thing, compared to the vast inequalities of wealth and rank in [for instance] Britain", says Otago University historian Erik Olssen.

    Hocken Librarian, Sharon Dell, introduced the event, and was followed by Emeritus Professor Erik Olssen who formally launched the book. As Erik pointed out, there had not been a comprehensive biography since R.M. Burdon’s 1955 biography on New Zealand’s most successful Premier perhaps due to the the giant shadow that Seddon cast. Tom’s biography opens up considerable new perspectives and information on the man.

    Emeritus Professor Erik Olssen
    Principal Investigator, History
    Professor Barbara Brookes
    History
    Professor Tom Brooking
    History
    Dr Annabel Cooper
    Gender & Women's Studies
    Dr. Howard Lee
    Education
    Associate Professor John Stenhouse
    History
    Emeritus Professor Clyde Griffen History, Vassar College
    Associate Professor Brian Heenan
    Geography
    Dr Jane Malthus
    Clothing & Textile Sciences
    Dr. Dorothy Page
    History (retired)

    Table of Contents

    Emeritus Professor Erik Olssen
    Principal Investigator, History
    Emeritus Professor Clyde Griffen History, Vassar College
    Emeritus Professor Frank L. Jones
    Sociology, Australian National University

  • Hocken Librarian, Sharon Dell, introduced the event, and was followed by Emeritus Professor Erik Olssen who formally launched the book. As Erik pointed out, there had not been a comprehensive biography since R.M. Burdon’s 1955 biography on New Zealand’s most successful Premier perhaps due to the the giant shadow that Seddon cast. Tom’s biography opens up considerable new perspectives and information on the man.

Erik Olssen | Centre for Research on Colonial Culture

Erik Olssen is theauthor of which gives a rare and fascinating view into working classlife and the nature of work in New Zealand's firstindustrial suburbs.