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Politics of Indigeneity
in the
South Pacific


Recent Problems of Identity in Oceania

Erich Kolig
Hermann Mückler
(eds.)


Publisher: LIT Verlag, Hamburg
Distributed in the USA/UK: Transaction Publisher, New Brunswick/London
Editors (Erich Kolig / Hermann Mueckler (eds.) 186 pages
published: 2002
paperback, price: 20,90 Euro (18,45 USD; 12,75 Pound)
ISBN : 3-8258-5915-0

Contents:

  • Erich Kolig: Introduction: Cultural revival, the construction of indigeneity, and the world-system

  • Kenneth Maddock: Revival, Renaissance, and the Meaning of Modern Constructions in Australia

  • Toon van Meijl: Culture and Crisis in Maori Society: The Tradition of Other and the Displacement of Self

  • Hal B. Levine: The Maori Iwi - Contested Meanings in Contemporary Aotearoa / New Zealand

  • Michael Goldsmith: Maori Assertions of Indigeneity, Post-Colonial Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Holocaust Denial

  • Erich Kolig: Guardians of Nature or Ecologists of the Stomach ? The indigenous cultural revival in New Zealand, resource use and nature conservation

  • Jacqueline Leckie: Return to Nukulau: the troubled waters of ethno-nationalism in Fiji

  • Hermann Mückler: Back to the chessboard: The coup and the re-emergence of pre-colonial rivalries in Fiji

  • Marie Pineau-Salaun: Kanak culture versus French curriculum: towards a multicultural education in New Caledonia?

  • Authors' profiles
  • (abstracts in Engl. and German at end of each paper)
Contributors:

  • Michael Goldsmith is Director of the Anthropology Programme at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. He has conducted research on social dimensions of religion in Tuvalu (Central Pacific) and on cultural, political and economic issues in other parts of the Pacific. He also has a long-standing interest in identity politics and state policies in New Zealand.
  • Erich Kolig teaches Social Anthropology at Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand. He has conducted field work and archival work mainly in Australia, Vanuatu, Indonesia, Afghanistan, New Zealand and Austria. He is the author of three books on Australian Aborigines, a monograph on a New Zealand explorer, and of numerous scholarly papers. He has been Visiting Professor in the Department of Ethnology, Cultural and Social Anthropology at Vienna University several times.
  • Jacqueline Leckie, a senior lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Otago, New Zealand, has several decades of research experience in Fiji with many publications on labour, gender and ethnicity, for example, To Labour with the State: the Fiji Public Service Association (1997). She is currently writing a history of institutionalised 'madness' in Fiji.
  • Hal B. Levine is a senior lecturer in Anthropology at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He has a long-standing interest in how ethnic identities develop and change. He is the author of Urbanization in Papua New Guinea; Stewart Island: Anthropological Perspectives on a New Zealand Fishing Commuinity (with M.W. Levine); Far From the Promised Land - Being Jewish in New Zealand (with A. Beaglehole); Constructing Collective Identity: and numerous journal articles.
  • Kenneth Maddock is an emeritus professor in Anthropology at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. His research experience has been mostly in Aboriginal Australia, but he has also done work on Indonesia, New Zealand and Vietnam. His books include The Australian Aborigines (1972,1982), Your Land is Our Land (1983), and Memories of Vietnam (1993). Since taking early retirement a few years ago he has concentrated on research in the history of anthropology and on native title consultancies.
  • Toon van Meijl is a graduate of the University of Nijmegen and the Australian National University from which he obtained his PhD in 1991. He has published widely on the renaissance of Maori culture and land rights of indigenous peoples. Recently he co-edited a volume entitled Property Rights and Economic Development: Land and Natural Resources in Southeast Asia and Oceania (1999). At present, he is a senior research fellow at the Centre for Pacific and Asian Studies, University of Nijmegen, Netherlands.
  • Hermann Mückler is Associate Professor at the Institute for Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Vienna, Austria. He has carried out extensive field research in Fiji and other Pacific Island states in Polynesia and Melanesia, which led to several publications (mainly in German language); for example, Fidschi - Zwischen Tradition und Transformation (1998) and Fidschi - Das Ende eines Südseeparadieses (2001). His interests lie in ethnohistory, political anthropology, and conflict management. He is president of the Austrian South Pacific Society and chair of the European Society for Oceanists.
  • Marie Pineau-Salaun is specialized in the Anthropology of Melanesia and in particular New Caledonia. She is a member of the Programme de recherche interdisciplinaire (PRI) "Etudes Oceanniennes d'Aujourd'hui' at the l'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris; she is also part of the informal group "New Caledonia", headed by Prof. Alban Bensa. Recently, shre received the 'Prix de la meillueure thése soutenue à l'Ecole des hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales en 2000' accompanied by a grant to publish her dissertation on the French school system in New Caledonia and its influences on contemporary Kanak culture.
Abstracts

Kenneth Maddock:
Ferment and controversy in Aboriginal affairs over the last few decades have not only given rise to rhetoric and moralising, but have led anthropologists and others into attempting to conceptualise the changing nature of Aboriginal societies. One view is that a cultural renaissance has begun. The paper, which focuses on the more settled parts of Australia, accepts that there may be some sort of cultural revival, but argues that the special connotations of „renaissance” mean that it is not the right word for what is happening. The salient facts which need to be taken into account in analysis and evaluation include the decomposition of indigenous traditions and the formation of new communities. These processes were well documented by earlier anthropologists whose work has fallen into undeserved neglect.

Toon van Meijl:
The revival of Maori culture and tradition has contributed to the political successes of New Zealand's indigenous population in recent years. At the same time, however, it has brought to light that an increasing group of Maori youngsters is unable to construct a cultural identity in terms of the discourses of culture and tradition that dominate the political arena. This paper addresses the identity crisis of Maori youngsters in ceremonial settings (marae).

Hal Levine:
„Iwi“ is a Maori word commonly understood in New Zealand to mean „tribe“. Many government programmes and Treaty of Waitangi settlements transfer funds to iwi groups. Non-tribal Maori organisations have reacted against this trend claiming that iwi need to be re-conceptualised in light of current social and cultural realities. This paper examines how recent arguments about the nature of iwi have affected the meaning of this term.

Michael Goldsmith
Maori assertions of indigeneity in contemporary New Zealand revolve around an identity politics which incorporate both forward-looking and backward-looking discourses. This paper focuses on the furore aroused by a traditionalist Maori politician's speech suggesting that many of the problems experienced by her people in the present could be attributed to „post-colonial traumatic stress disorder“. Her use of the term „holocaust“ to characterise the effects of colonialism was even more controversial and earned her a rebuke from the prime minister. Where, then, does responsibility lie and how can the tragedies of the past be explained and absolved?

Erich Kolig
This paper discusses notions of the kind of relationship Maori traditionally are supposed to have had with nature/environment, and which now play a role in the indigenous cultural renaissance in New Zealand and form a vital part in the country's political discourse. As the authenticity of the claim that Maori in pre-European times have treated their environment with great care and consideration is now rarely challenged, a raft of strategies and privileges, such as the recognition of customary resource rights under the terms of the Waitangi Treaty, is deduced from that.

Jacqueline Leckie
This paper explores the complexities of ethnonationalism in multicultural Fiji, where almost half the population are of Indian descent. Coups in 1987 and 2000 have been popularly attributed to racial or ethnic conflict and the protection of indigenous culture and rights. This glosses over other dynamics, especially among indigenous Fijians, including contestations over tradition, chiefly power, vanua, class, the economy, the military and the church. The paper emphasises the legacy of colonialism for ethnic identity in Fiji.

Hermann Mueckler
This article highlights similarities between political conditions on the chiefly level in the mid-19th century and present times in Fiji. The coup of the year 2000, carried out by George Speight, marked the open outbreak of conflicts between traditional and influential chiefly families and chiefdoms as well as between the three old confederacies. With a short overview of the historic conditions prior to the cession of Fiji to the British Empire in 1874, the bridge is drawn to the recent process of regrouping interest-groups and power in Fiji after the hostage crisis. The situation then and now seems like a chess game which was abandoned in 1874, due to the colonial influence which suppressed the continuation of sometimes century-long existing conflicts, and which is now being taken up again.

Marie Pineau-Salaun
The paper examines processes of education and school curricula in New Caledonia and the growing influence Melanesian self-awareness is able to avert. Well aware of the political sgnificance of formal school education as a vehicle for French hegemony, Melanesian independentists are fighting to roll back the heavy predominance of a cosmopolitan French bias in it.
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Editor: Hermann Mückler
© 2006