Agora-SHS Ateliers gouvernance et recherche Appliquée
Nouméa, Thursday 11 July 2024

Sciences Sociales Nouvelle Calédonie Sciences Humaines


PhD candidate, School of Language Studies
College of Arts and Social Sciences, The Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200, Australia

Changing constellations of ‘nation’ and ‘identity’ in the written press of Kanaky/New Caledonia (1975-2008) Working title

My doctoral thesis comprises a critical discourse analysis of the local print-media coverage of selected cultural events which took place between 1975 and 2008 in Kanaky/New Caledonia. These events have been chosen for their particular relevance to questions of collective identity and the different realities, aspirations and projects relating to the country’s politico-juridical status and its relationship to France. Through an analysis of the coverage of these events in the local written press, my research aims to consider the changing discursive constructions and strategic mobilisations of various collective identities and the notion of ‘identity’ itself, in relation to the changing socio-political context and the struggles for and against independence from France in particular. What significance might these changing discursive constructions and mobilisations of ‘identity’ have in relation to the articulation and realisation of different socio-political projects for Kanaky/New Caledonia in the past, the present and into the future?

My thesis begins with an analysis of the contemporaneous and subsequent local print-media coverage of the 1975 Festival of Melanesian Arts, Mélanésia 2000. This is followed by an analysis of the press coverage of the conceptualisation, realisation, inauguration (on the 4th May 1998) and subsequent functioning of the ADCK’s Tjibaou Cultural Centre, as well as the local cultural institutions that preceded it. The third event considered in this study is the 8th Festival of Pacific Arts hosted by New Caledonia in 2000, particularly regarding the question of non-Kanak participation in New Caledonia’s official delegation at this and other (preceding and subsequent) editions of the Festival, and including consideration of the 1984 Festival that was cancelled in New Caledonia due to the outbreak of violent civil conflict which signalled the beginning of the period known euphemistically as les événements. The final part of the thesis presents an analysis of the print-media coverage of the continuing controversy surrounding the Mwâ Kâ (since its creation in 2003), the commemoration of the 24th September (anniversary of French colonisation), the signes identitaires and the notion of New Caledonian ‘citizenship’ elaborated in the Noumea Accord.

The politics of place, identity, memory (forgetting/remembering), history, citizenship and socio-political and cultural legitimacy in the ever-changing and highly complex context of Kanaky/New Caledonia are all particularly significant in relation to these chosen events and, beyond them, to any consideration of the possible future outcomes of the official, present-day socio-political project to forge a ‘common destiny’ shared by all of the country’s inhabitants.

This research forms part of a broader research project directed by Dr Peter Brown and Professor Darrell Tryon which has the support of the Australian Research Council and is entitled Language, Literature and the Expression of Cultural Change in the Francophone Pacific, with special reference to New Caledonia.

Conference papers:

Repenser le rapport à l’Autre : quelques réflexions sur l’intérêt que présente la pensée d’Emmanuel Lévinas pour la Nouvelle-Calédonie et son avenir – paper presented in 2005 at the 18th Colloque CORAIL, Tjibaou Cultural Centre, Noumea

The 8th Festival of Pacific Arts and New Caledonian ethno-cultural diversity – paper presented in 2009 at Asia–Pacific Week, The Australian National University, Canberra

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