Our next instalment of Graduate Stories features Kris Finlayson, who is doing his MA in Social Anthropology at Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa (Massey University, Albany campus) under the supervision of Dr Robyn Andrews & Dr Graeme MacRae. He is due to submit his thesis next month!
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in rural Northland but left as soon as possible to travel. During our first year of undergraduate study in NZ, I met my, now, wife and we have three children. I enjoy learning languages and about language in general and also looking at Jewish and Messianic Jewish custom. And a good pinot.
What drew you to anthropology?
For my undergraduate degree, I was originally studying Law and Development Studies with an intention of entering international politics. As part of the Development Studies core, I enrolled in a 100-level paper in anthropology and that was all it really took.
What are you working on?
I am about to complete my Masters, Wie is ek?: An identity study of Afrikaners in New Zealand. My thesis explores the identity of Afrikaans-speakers’ in New Zealand’s society. I analyse the major key descriptors of what it means to be Afrikaans today and follow this with how that translates and changes in New Zealand’s social sphere. Key descriptors emerging from the research are language, descent, religion and social politics. I have used a highly modified form of the biographic narrative interview method (BNIM), developed by Tom Wengraf (2017), to get a subjective account from participants. This method allows the participant alone to decide what is the most important story to tell.
How have you found life as a graduate student?
It’s great! The lecturers and other postgraduate students at Massey really go out of their way to help and encourage you to become a part of their academic community and succeed in what you want to do. I actually think that universities should push postgraduate study a bit harder than they do. As an undergrad, you know further study is an option, but it can sometimes feel like an unachievable or unenjoyable goal – which isn’t true in the slightest.
What are your current influences?
My main influence is my wife. She is Afrikaans and without her I would have no clue about anything to do with southern Africa. Since meeting her, I’ve discovered the most amazing culture among Afrikaner immigrants. I’ve never really been that great ‘fitting in’ with people but, around South Africans, socialising just seemed to be easier. The food, the music, the dancing, the political discussions ... I’ve enjoyed all of it and that is what drives me to find out more about why Afrikaners are the way they are.