Des Militants aux Professionnels de la Culture : les représentations de l'identité kanak en Nouvelle-Calédonie (1975-2015)

Abstract : A symbol of “Kanak culture revival”, the festival of Melanesian arts Melanesia 2000 has just celebrated in 2015 its 40th anniversary. This event was in all likelihood the cultural catalyst for the nationalist movement which in the 1980’s successfully established la coutume (“kastom”) as a unifying symbol for the Kanak people in opposition to the colonial status quo. Having been engaged for more than two decades in a process of decolonization – the political and constitutional outcome of which remains uncertain – New Caledonia is now experiencing the effects of a policy of rebalancing in favour of the indigenous people, notably in the form of an unprecedented appreciation of Kanak cultural identity, the preservation of tangible and intangible heritage and the active promotion of cultural development and artistic creation within a wider Pacific cultural context.It is important to retrace the genesis of the “Kanak renaissance” in light of the epistemological discussions that animated Oceanian anthropology in the period, especially the debates around the (re)invention of traditions and their instrumentalization to promote identity consciousness and political mobilization. The social sciences – and especially anthropology – make it possible to place in historical perspective the ongoing process of the making of cultures as collective identities that are objectified, put on display and sanctified (or not) through their official recognition and inscription within the public arena. With the emergence of a new cultural field entirely dedicated to “the management of symbols” (Dubois, 1999), ethnographical research carried out with the social actors makes it possible to show that the representations of Kanak identity that were for a long time the domain of indigenous militants and engaged intellectuals are now the domain of curators and managers of art and cultural heritage.Finally, this largely retrospective study aims at a better epistemological and sociological understanding of social and cultural change in New Caledonia in the period since the hardening of Kanak nationalism (1975-1988) up until the multi-cultural project for a “shared future” brought about by the application of the Noumea Accord (1998-2018).
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Caroline Graille. Des Militants aux Professionnels de la Culture : les représentations de l'identité kanak en Nouvelle-Calédonie (1975-2015). Anthropologie sociale et ethnologie. Université Paul Valéry - Montpellier III, 2015. Français. ⟨NNT : 2015MON30043⟩. ⟨tel-01281440⟩

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