The Center for Pacific Islands Studies (CPIS) is pleased to announce the publication of a new volume in its Pacific Islands Monograph Series (PIMS) — The Kanak Awakening: The Rise of Nationalism in New Caledonia by David Chappell, UH Manoa History Department and CPIS affiliate faculty.
This study examines the rise in New Caledonia of rival identity formations that became increasingly polarized in the 1970s and examines in particular the emergence of activist discourses in favor of Kanak cultural nationalism and land reform, multiracial progressive sovereignty, or a combination of both aspirations. Most studies of modern New Caledonia focus on the violent 1980s uprising, which left deep scars on local memories and identities. Yet the genesis of that rebellion began with a handful of university students who painted graffiti on public buildings in 1969, and such activists discussed many of the same issues that face the country’s leadership today. After examining the historical, cultural, and intellectual background of that movement, this work draws on new research in public and private archives and interviews with participants to trace the rise of a nationalist movement that ultimately restored self-government and legalized indigenous aspirations for sovereignty in a local citizenship with its own symbols. Kanak now govern two out of three provinces and have an important voice in the Congress of New Caledonia, but they are a slight demographic minority. Their quest for nationhood must achieve consensus with the immigrant communities, much as the founders of the independence movement in the 1970s recommended.
From a review by John Kim Munholland, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of Minnesota:
This is a very valuable contribution to the literature on New Caledonia’s recent history and the search for Kanak identity in a world of decolonization. The author shows an excellent command of the literature, not only the discussions leading up to the ‘Melanesia 2000’ event but the long archaeological and anthropological record. It is a valuable synthesis of the ways in which the political and the cultural have connected to produce and interesting experiment of decolonization without independence.”
Read an excerpt from the introduction here: http://www.uhpress.hawaii.edu/books/chappellIntro.pdf. To learn more or purchase the book, please go to: http://www.uhpress.hawaii.edu/p-9114-9780824838188.aspx.
This article originally appeared in Pacific News from Manoa, the newsletter of the Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawaii.