Abstract

From a French perspective, French Polynesia is often described as an overseas territory that has been virtually decolonized through the granting of statutes of autonomy. In stark contrast, pro-independence local political parties still consider the country a colony and have successfully lobbied for a process of decolonization under United Nations oversight. This article assesses these competing claims through an analysis of the political evolution of the territory since World War II. The analysis shows that French Polynesia has never been genuinely decolonized. In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, the French government arbitrarily pulled the territory out of all available international or French domestic decolonization processes, subjecting it to an anachronistic restoration of colonial authority that included the arrest and long-term imprisonment of its major political leader and a series of other unusually undemocratic measures. This led to, and culminated in, the construction of a nuclear testing facility, with tremendous environmental, health, and economic consequences during the following three decades. Later, after giving in to local protests demanding autonomy, France misused that concept not only to cover up a de-facto continuity of colonial rule but also to create a corrupt authoritarian local government favorable to French interests. Recent actions taken and attitudes demonstrated by the French government and its representatives, including repeated arbitrary modifications of the rules of local politics and meddling therein in order to secure their favorites in power, have shown that French colonialism in French Polynesia is alive and well. An international campaign for the decolonization of the country is thus clearly warranted.

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9464
Print ISSN
1043-898X
Pages
pp. 259-296
Launched on MUSE
2013-08-02
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.