Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

The Shapeshifting Crown
Locating the State in Postcolonial New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the UK

$88.00 ( ) USD

Cris Shore, David V. Williams, Sally Raudon, Jai Patel, Sally Raudon
View all contributors
  • Date Published: January 2019
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781108756174

$ 88.00 USD ( )
Adobe eBook Reader

You will be taken to for this purchase
Buy eBook Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • The Crown stands at the heart of the New Zealand, British, Australian and Canadian constitutions as the ultimate source of legal authority and embodiment of state power. A familiar icon of the Westminster model of government, it is also an enigma. Even constitutional experts struggle to define its attributes and boundaries: who or what is the Crown and how is it embodied? Is it the Queen, the state, the government, a corporation sole or aggregate, a relic of feudal England, a metaphor, or a mask for the operation of executive power? How are its powers exercised? How have the Crowns of different Commonwealth countries developed? The Shapeshifting Crown combines legal and anthropological perspectives to provide novel insights into the Crown's changing nature and its multiple, ambiguous and contradictory meanings. It sheds new light onto the development of the state in postcolonial societies and constitutional monarchy as a cultural system.

    • A novel anthropological analysis of the Crown and the political and legal work that it performs in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom
    • Examines the Crown's fluid, contested and contradictory meanings and the implications of this for political legitimacy, sovereignty and governance in postcolonial societies
    • Provides comparative and ethnographic perspectives on the role of the Crown in postcolonial Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Britain, and assesses which country will be the first to become a republic
    • Analyses arguments about constitutional reform and offers new anthropological insights into the meanings of monarchy as a symbolic system
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'The Shapeshifting Crown is a careful, multilayered study of one the most important, but often neglected, institutions in Westminster states. Bringing together legal, political, and anthropological perspectives, this volume offers a rich understanding of the roles the Crown plays in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, while also bringing a critical view to bear of the history and future of Westminster monarchies. This work is essential reading for those seeking to appreciate the meanings and functions of the Crown today.' Philippe Lagassé, William and Jeanie Barton Chair at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, Ottawa

    ‘Just as the Crown, as a physical object, displays different bejewelled faces depending on the perspective of the viewer, so too the Crown in its symbolic and governmental form displays many facets. This new book, edited by New Zealand's Cris Shore and David V. Williams, expertly locates and analyses each of these facets - from the sacred relationship between the Crown and Indigenous peoples, to its history, rituals and embodiment within the patriotic myth and spirit of different Commonwealth Realms. The book also looks to the future, addressing the likely impact of the death of the Queen, the effectiveness of republican movements and efforts to rein in the prerogative powers of the Crown. This book is unique, as it traverses across the fields of history, politics, law, anthropology and sociology in its examination of the Crown in the Realms. It makes a sophisticated and enlightening contribution to scholarship on the Crown.’ Anne Twomey, Sydney Law School, University of Sydney

    'The efficiently coordinated multiple authors of this intriguing book adopt a classic anthropological move in an unusual context: they examine an eccentric symbol of centralized  power (the British Crown) from the variously and productively marginalizing distance of indigenous and settler experiences in three Commonwealth countries (Australia, New Zealand, and Canada). Shunning facile assumptions, they explore the entailment of all parties in the Crown’s kaleidoscopic ontology. The result is a stunning, multi-faceted empirical analysis of that ever-present institution, the state, as a peculiar - and, yes, shapeshifting - form of polity. This book deserves a wide audience.' Michael Herzfeld, Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences, Harvard University, Massachusetts

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2019
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781108756174
    • contains: 24 b/w illus.
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: a shapeshifting enigma: the Crown in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom Cris Shore
    Part I. The Nature and Development of the Crown:
    2. Genealogies of the modern Crown: from St Edward to Queen Elizabeth II David V. Williams
    3. The Crown as metonym for the state? The human face of Leviathan Cris Shore
    4. Indigenous peoples and the Crown: the sacred duty Sally Raudon
    Part II. The Crown as an Embodied Entity:
    5. The rituals of Crown and state in New Zealand Jai Patel
    6. Locating the Crown in Australia: the swag of Camp Gallipoli Sally Raudon
    7. Localising the Crown: Royals and (re)patriation Jai Patel and Sally Raudon
    Part III. The Crown and Constitutional Reform:
    8. The Republican move: cutting colonial ties Jai Patel
    9. Constitutional reform and the politics of public engagement Cris Shore and David V. Williams
    10. Crown prerogative: reining in the powers David V. Williams
    11. The Queen is dead, long live the King? Sally Raudon
    12. Conclusion: the future of the Crown in an age of uncertainty: sempiternal or crumbling foundation? Cris Shore, David V. Williams and Sally Raudon.

  • Editors

    Cris Shore, University of Auckland
    Cris Shore is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Auckland and Guest Professor of Public Management at Stockholm University's Centre for Organisational Research. Previously, he was the Head of Department and founding director of the Europe Institute, University of Auckland and taught at Perugia University (1986), Oxford Brookes University (1987–90) and Goldsmiths College (1990–2003). His research specialisms include political anthropology, organisations, higher education, the anthropology of policy, corruption, and Europe. He is author/co-editor of 140 articles and 14 books including Building Europe (2000); Corruption: Anthropological Perspectives (2005); Policy Worlds: Anthropology and the Analysis of Contemporary Power (2011); Up Close and Personal: Peripheral Perspectives and the Production of Anthropological Knowledge (2013) and Death of the Public University? (2017). He has held visiting appointments at the universities of Harvard, Bristol, Aarhus, Sussex, University College London, Malta and the European University Institute, Florence. In 2017, he was awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand's Mason Durie medal for contributions to the social sciences.

    David V. Williams, University of Auckland
    David V. Williams is a Professor of Law at the University of Auckland. He has taught and researched at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and then the University of Auckland since 1972. He has been an independent researcher and barrister specialising in research relevant to Treaty of Waitangi claims by indigenous Maori concerning historic acts or omissions of the Crown. He has authored 5 books including 'Te Kooti tango whenua': The Native Land Court 1864–1909 (1999) and A simple nullity? The Wi Parata case in New Zealand Law and History (2011). Additional publications include 18 book chapters, 37 refereed journal articles and 10 major technical reports submitted to the Waitangi Tribunal. He has held visiting appointments at Exeter College, St John's College and Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford, and at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. In 2017, he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the American Society for Legal History.


    Cris Shore, David V. Williams, Sally Raudon, Jai Patel, Sally Raudon

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.