Karin Speedy


As a historian, researcher, writer, literary scholar, linguist and translator, my work focuses on the tensions at the intersections (both geographical and textual) of contact between Indigenous and settler populations in the colonial and postcolonial Francophone and Anglophone worlds. I am especially interested in creolisation and anti-colonial resistance and my writing reflects critically on trans-imperial networks, horizontal mobilities, slavery and forced labour, the colonial archive, critical race and whiteness, and African and Indian Ocean diasporas in the Pacific. In addition to my academic writing, I am a published writer of creative histories. This year, I was successful in obtaining a Marsden Fund grant for a 3-year project (2022-2025) titled ‘When colonial worlds connect: trans-imperial networks of forced labour between the Indian and Pacific Oceans and the untold stories of Reunionese Creoles in Oceania’. 

I am bilingual in French and English and have published literary translations with in-depth critical introductions of two books (a novel and a collection of short stories) by New Caledonian authors. I have also published a book on New Caledonian history and linguistics (written in French). In 2013, I was awarded the John Dunmore Medal by the New Zealand Federation of Alliances Françaises in recognition of my major contribution to knowledge of French language, culture and history in the Pacific. I have a particularly deep knowledge of Kanaky New Caledonia’s history, languages, and literature.

I am an Associate Professor with an honorary Visiting Research Fellow position at the University of Adelaide and I am currently Deputy Editor of the Island Studies journal, ‘Shima’, on the Editorial Advisory Committee for the ‘Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages’ and the Copy-Editor for the ‘Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History’. As an editor and a reviewer for many journals and several publishers and as a supervisor and examiner of numerous postgraduate theses, I have extensive experience in editing and reviewing academic and creative writing. I also enjoy “translating” research into texts for more general audiences and am an active blogger and experienced writer of press releases and print, web and social media stories.

Through my business, Speedy Research & Consulting, I offer my services as a professional historian as well as more general writing, research, editing, copyediting, consulting and translation services.

In these times of Covid-19, in addition to writing histories (books, articles, web-based texts, media texts, reports etc.) I can also carry out archival research for historians and researchers unable to travel to New Zealand. I am based in Wellington and have access to the National Library, the Alexander Turnbull Library Collections, and the National Archives. I can also travel to other libraries and archives within New Zealand.

Selected Historical Publications


Speedy, Karin. 2022. Foundations. Lower Hutt: Karin Speedy. 978-0-473-63689-0 (Softcover POD), 978-0-473-63690-6 (Epub), 978-0-473-63691-3 (Kindle).

Speedy, Karin. 2015 (online)/2016 (print). Georges Baudoux’s Jean M’Baraï the trepang fisherman. Sydney: UTS ePress, 145p, ISBN: 978-0-9945039-1-6, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/978-0-9945039-1-6

Speedy, Karin. 2007. Colons, Créoles et Coolies: L’immigration réunionnaise en Nouvelle-Calédonie (XIXe siècle) et le tayo de Saint-Louis. Paris: L’Harmattan, 218p, ISBN : 978-2-296-03575-1 Translated title: Settlers, Creoles and Coolies: Reunionese immigration to New Caledonia (19th century) and the Tayo of Saint-Louis

Articles and Book Chapters
Speedy, Karin. 2021. “Le tayo de Nouvelle-Calédonie : un cas d’étude pour repenser les histoires des origines des langues creoles”, in Véronique Fillol and Leslie Vandeputte (eds), Créoles, pidgins et idéologies linguistiques dans les îles du Pacifique, Cahiers du Pacifique Sud contemporain, Paris: L’Harmattan, 31-62.

Speedy, Karin. 2020. “Toppling Joubert: Exposing the colonial routes of island connectedness beneath the apparent French roots of Hunters Hill (Sydney, Australia)”, Shima, 14.2, 185-213. https://www.shimajournal.org/issues/v14n2/13.-Speedy-Shima-v14n2.pdf

Speedy, Karin. 2019. “Tracing Indian Languages in New Caledonia” in Appasamy Murugaiyan and Fred Negrit (eds.), Langues de l’Inde en diasporas Maintiens et transmissions / Indian Languages in Diasporas Retention and Transmission, Paris: SCITEP éditions, 99-118.

Speedy, Karin. 2017. “L’Ordre et la morale: looking beyond the transnational in a non-indigenous film about recent Pacific history”, Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, 14.2, 34-50. http://dx.doi.org/10.11157/sites-vol14iss2id334

Speedy, Karin. 2017. “Transformative Mobilities and the Non-dit: Constructing Whiteness across Two French Colonial Spaces”, Open Library of Humanities, 3.2: http://doi.org/10.16995/olh.132

Speedy, Karin. 2016. “‘Arab Castaways’/‘French Escapees’: Mobilities, Border Protection and White Australia”, Law, Crime and History, 6.2, 15-30. http://www.lawcrimehistory.org/journal/vol.6%20issue2%202016/Speedy%20final%20proofed.pdf

Speedy, Karin. 2016. “Constructing Subaltern Silence in the Colonial Archive”, Journal of Australian Colonial History, 18, 95-114.

Speedy, Karin. 2015. “The Sutton Case: the First Franco-Australian Foray into Blackbirding”, The Journal of Pacific History, 50.3, 344-364. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223344.2015.1073868

Speedy, Karin and Sahaï, Jean Samuel. 2015. “Les Indiens en Nouvelle-Calédonie: de la marginalisation à l’invisibilité”, in Jean Samuel Sahaï, Adagio pour la Da: les Indiens des Antilles de Henry Sidambarom à Aimé Césaire, Atramenta: Tampere.

Speedy, Karin. 2014. “Les Réunionnais oubliés du Caillou: un terrain de recherche multi-situé et pluridisciplinaire traversant temps et espace” in Véronique Fillol and Pierre-Yves Le Meur (eds.), Terrains océaniens: enjeux et méthodes, Paris: L’Harmattan, 267-283.

Speedy, Karin. 2013. “Mission-educated girls in nineteenth-century Saint-Louis and their Impact on the Evolution of Tayo”, Shima, 7.1. http://www.shimajournal.org/issues/v7n1/f.%20Speedy%20Shima%20v7n1%2060-79.pdf

Speedy, Karin. 2012. “From the Indian Ocean to the Pacific: Affranchis and Petits- Blancs in New Caledonia”, Portal Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, Special Issue: Indian Ocean Traffic, 9.1. http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/journals/index.php/portal/article/view/2567

Speedy, Karin. 2009. “Who were the Reunion Coolies of Nineteenth-Century New Caledonia?”, Journal of Pacific History, 44.2, 123-140. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223340903142090

Speedy, Karin. 2008. “Out of the frying pan and into the fire: Reunionese immigrants and the sugar industry in nineteenth-century New Caledonia”, New Zealand Journal of French Studies, 29.2, 5-19.

Creative Histories and Guest blog posts on academic multi-author blogsites
Speedy, Karin. 2016. “A Pacific Blackbirding Narrative”, Guest post on the Port Towns and Urban Cultures Coastal History Blog, blog 34. http://porttowns.port.ac.uk/blog34/

Speedy, Karin. 2016. “Rites of Passage” and “Tropical Depression”, original poems in Snorkel literary magazine, issue 23. http://snorkel.org.au/023/speedy.html

Speedy, Karin. 2015. “Sydney’s Global Slavery Scandal of 1857”, Imperial & Global Forum. http://imperialglobalexeter.com/2015/09/21/sydneys-global-slavery-scandal-of-1857/

Speedy, Karin. 2015. “Cuttings from a Pacific Garden”, “Objets Trouvés in the New Caledonian Archives”, “Flame Tree or Portrait of a Reunionese Woman in New Caledonia circa 1908”, “The Night Before Waitangi Day”, original poems in Blackmail Press, special issue on Piercing the White Space, 41, November 2015, issn1176-4791 http://www.blackmailpress.com/KS41.html

Speedy, Karin. 2009. “Remembering Paris”, invited essay in Catalogue for the Remembering Paris Exhibition, Macquarie University Art Gallery 2 July – 14 August 2009. Sydney: Macquarie University Press, 3-5.


  • Archiving
  • Compiling bibliographies
  • Editing
  • Oral history
  • Project management
  • Proof-reading
  • Public speaking
  • Research
  • Teaching
  • Writing


  • Biography
  • Family
  • Gender
  • Immigration
  • Labour
  • Maritime
  • Material culture
  • Migration
  • Women