Penelope Lysnar

Doctor of Philosophy, (Sociology)
Study Completed: 2013
College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Thesis Title
The koru and the unconscious: an articulation of national identity in Aotearoa New Zealand

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Academic articulations of national identity in Aotearoa New Zealand are largely discussed in terms of biculturalism, multiculturalism, or ethnicity. Ms Lysnar explored an alternative approach. She used a psychoanalytic framework to examine how and why the koru (a loop symbol) operates as a signifier of national identity. A theoretical and methodological framework of inquiry was constructed by combining aspects of Christopher Bollas and Fredric Jameson’s work. This provided a means of examining over 200 images of the koru motif, which comprised the main data component of her study. Her findings reveal that the compelling and captivating nature of the koru motif represent a collective and unconscious desire for the recognition of maternal or feminine ways of thinking and knowing. This stands in contrast to the current dominant paternal or masculine articulations of national identity within Aotearoa New Zealand.

Dr Warwick Tie
Associate Professor Ann Dupuis

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