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Derek Boetcher

Department of History
2017-2018 Rothman Doctoral Fellow

Derek Boetcher, doctoral candidate in History, used his 2017-2018 Rothman Doctoral Fellowship to travel to New Zealand to research textual and visual sources at the National Archives of New Zealand, the National Library of New Zealand, and the Auckland Art Gallery, as well as to photograph a number of monuments for his dissertation project. Boetcher’s work investigates the lives of temporary commemorative monumental artworks in Ireland and British Imperial Dominions from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century.

Boetcher’s New Zealand research focuses on the Royal Arches erected in 1901 to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York as part of a global imperial tour. His work argues that these temporary structures are part of a global network linking colonial sites to the Empire. These arches incorporated regional, national, and imperial identities and thus indicated visions of empire and post-imperial settings. The “lives” of these monuments demonstrate how these identities develop over time in relationship to one another and in their imperial context.

Boetcher’s scholarship demonstrates that these artworks have formed, and continue to form, connections between Britain, Ireland, and the Dominions even when they have been destroyed or removed. These pieces are part of a complex web that constitutes a global imperial landscape in which the roles of Ireland and the Dominions change over time as the empire developed. He furthermore argues that these histories challenge and complicate narratives claiming that colonial nationalist and independence movements developed in opposition to the empire.