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Contested sites, land claims and economic development in Poum, New Caledonia

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)

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Publication date31/05/2016
Host publicationOther people's country: law, water and entitlement in settler colonial sites
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge
Pages26-40
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)1138657506, 9781138657502
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Property relations are often ambiguous in postcolonial settings. Property is only considered as such if socially legitimate institutions sanction it. In indigenous communities, access to natural resources is frequently multidimensional and overlapping, subject to conflict and negotiation in a ‘social arena’. Settler arrivals and new economic possibilities challenge these norms and extend the arena. The article analyses conflicts and negotiations in the French overseas territory of New Caledonia in the light of its unique settler history and economic activity, focussing on the little-studied remote northern district of Poum on the Caledonian main island Grande Terre. In this region the descendants of British fishermen intermarried with the majority Kanak clans. We illustrate the interaction between customary conflicts, European settlement, struggles for independence, and a desire for economic development. Customary claims are in tension with the attractions of economic growth and service delivery, which has been slow in coming to Poum for reasons largely outside the control of local people.

Bibliographic note

Reprint of a 2015 paper published in Settler Colonial Studies journal