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Books, writing and cultural politics in the Pacific: the New Caledonian Salon du livre, October 2003October 2005

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The second New Caledonian Salon international du livre ocanien (SILO) took place in October 2005. The establishment of this biennial book fair/writers' festival can be understood in the context of the Noumea Accord (1998). In addition to providing for the devolution of powers from Paris to Noumea, this Accord has called for a greater promotion of Kanak culture and a better distribution of resources within New Caledonia a rquilibrage as well as increased integration of the island within its regional context. To this end, writers, publishers and translators from a number of Pacific Islands, Australia, New Zealand and metropolitan France were invited to Poindimi on the north-east coast of New Caledonia, a largely Kanak region, for four days of round-table discussions, workshops and other presentations. These proceedings revealed some of the persistent divergences between the European and Pacific Islander vision (for instance, regarding the question of the exotic), as between Polynesian and Melanesian, anglophone and francophone approaches to the themes of nature, youth, tradition, creativity and identity. Other topics discussed were the value and difficulties of publication and the situation of France in the Pacific. The literary prizes announced by the Salon under the patronage of Dwe Gorod, New Caledonia's leading (Kanak) writer and its Minister of Culture, resonated with aspects of the cultural politics of the event, the process of reconciliation and the project of nation building currently under way in New Caledonia.
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Keywords: New Caledonia; Noumea Accord; Pacific Islands; Salon du livre; creativity; exotic; nation building; reconciliation; rquilibrage; tradition; writers' festival

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Australian National University, Canberra.

Publication date: 2006-09-12

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