Beginning with an attempt to define “colonial times” and the “colonial past,” this article examines the question of indigenous remembrance or remembrances of the past in the Pacific region—a subject that lies at the heart of the collaboration between disciplines of history and anthropology. The situations of the two main French colonies in the region—New Caledonia and French Polynesia—are quite different. What is similar is that, in both cases, indigenous peoples do not seem very interested in the period of first contact with Western navigators, and both tend to cast the evangelical work of nineteenth-century missionaries in a positive light. But colonial experiences in the two places are given distinctly different representations. New Caledonia has a violent past, with opposition between Kanak groups and French settlers as well as between some groups of Kanak. For this reason, it is necessary for work of remembrance to take place before a strong path toward the future, in the spirit of the Matignon and Nouméa accords, can be developed. In French Polynesia, on the other hand, the colonial wars of the nineteenth century have only recently begun to be a subject of public interest, but the period of nuclear tests (1966–1996) is still fresh in the collective memory. This period is the main reason for the tension in French Polynesia’s relations with the French State, which, for members of the independence movement (and others), makes it impossible to forget and difficult to forgive.


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pp. 337-368
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