April 20

History Workshop: William Matt Cavert

“Cultivation & Culture: Migrant Coffees, Planters, & Laborers in New Caledonia”
William Matt Cavert, Ph.D Candidate, Lecturer
UHM Department of History

Friday April 20th
Sakamaki Hall A201

In the closing decades of the nineteenth century the colonial administration of New Caledonia began a concerted effort to establish a reliable agricultural foundation for the future prosperity of the settler colony.  Efforts to transform the penal colony into a colony of free settlement focused on the development of the coffee industry.  Coffee embodied colonial aspirations; to transform the countryside, to attract free settlers, to enculturate indigenous populations towards seasonal wage labour, to provide an agricultural anchor for the colony.   The coffee colonialism of New Caledonia enjoyed its golden age between the World Wars, when international prices were high and colonial expositions provided a key venue for selling the experience of the coffee— the idyllic and verdant South Pacific landscape, the taste of the rich island soil, the civilizing mission with its happy indigenous field workers.  Coffee sold the colony not for what it was, but what it wanted to be.