In May 2018, David Chappell, UHM Professor of Pacific History, traveled to New Caledonia in the South Pacific for the formal launch of the French translation of his book, The Kanak Awakening: The Rise of Nationalism in New Caledonia (UH Press 2013). Dr. Nathalie Segeral of the UHM French Department translated the book as Le Réveil Kanak: La montée du nationalisme en Nouvelle-Calédonie (Madrépores, and Université de la Nouvelle-Calédonie, 2017), with funding from the Association des Etudes Melanésiennes. The translation was published by a local private press and the public university, so France financed the trip. The book had sold about 300 copies after going on sale there in November 2017, and it was timely because a referendum on independence was scheduled for November 2018.
Professor Chappell gave a public lecture in French at the University, with a panel of journalists to field and also to pose follow-up questions, as well as doing interviews on local television, radio and in the daily newspaper. He most enjoyed the evening book signing, where he had the opportunity to chat with purchasers who wanted their copies dedicated. He was pleased that so many young people wanted the book, including two young indigenous women who said that their friends were reading and discussing it, and an indigenous university student had already bought the English edition but now wanted the French one. Most moving was a purchase by the widow of an independence activist who had been assassinated in 1981. In November, Professor Chappell also participated in a UHM Center for Pacific Islands Studies colloquium series, Oceania Ensemble, which brought scholars from French Polynesia and New Caledonia to participate, and he later wrote an analysis of the independence referendum for CPIS. He’s now retired.