Cultural politics : discord and factionalism in New Caledonia, 1919 to 1993
This thesis focuses on the activities of a group of young French people staying in a hostel in Noumea from 1991 to 1993. It draws on my fieldwork in Noumea and Mare in the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia. The main part of the thesis looks at the interactions of this group of young people with other ethnic and social groups living in New Caledonia. These include the Kanaks, the "Caldoches" (native-born Caledonians of French origin), the "Metros" (immigrants from metropolitan France), Pacific islanders, Vietnamese and Indonesians. The thesis also includes a short section describing Mare itself and my fieldwork there. Particular attention is paid to the Kanaks and to the Caldoches, whose rural and urban lifestyles are compared and contrasted to those of the young people being studied. Relations between these young people, newly arrived in the French Pacific, and those of the colony's established inhabitants, allow themes of globalization, travel, knowledge, reflexivity and alterity to be explored vis-a-vis anthropological theory. Kanak behaviour, towards Kanaks and others, is shown to relate to ideas of knowledge, power, gender and hierarchy, prevalent in both Polynesia and Melanesia. The work is underpinned by explanations of, and references to, the international and local historical and geographical context of New Caledonian social and political behaviour. It attempts to show the bitter disputes and resentments arising between ethnic groups. It discusses civil unrest, the Kanaks' desire for independence, and some possible economic and social consequences.