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Imagining the Body in Pacific Francophone Literature
Abstract

Abstract:

This article deals with the central position of the body in Polynesian and Kanak imaginary, ancestral myths, and language. In the collective imagination, the body is akin to a particle of the cosmos. The author probes into major primordial images in order to understand the peculiar role of the body in the Oceanic “anthropological structures of the imaginary” (Gilbert Durand’s term) and asks whether the vision proposed by archaic myths finds its way into modern autochthonous Polynesian and Kanak indigenous literature, especially in the writings of Déwé Gorodé, Chantal Spitz, Flora Devatine, and Moetai Brotherson. Indeed, in keeping with the theories of Michel Foucault, the Oceanic body as it appears in modern poetic or novelistic narrations bears witness in its maimed flesh to a collective history and bears the scars of colonialism. Through its transhistorical dimension as well, this brand of francophone literature constitutes an original way to introduce some sort of counter-discourse into narrative strategies shaped by Western colonial history. In reclaiming the body, these writers are also reviving an ancestral voice.