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Indigenous struggles and water policies in contemporary New Caledonia

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Following the struggles of the 1980s, the Matignon and Nouméa Agreements profoundly transformed the issue of decolonization in New Caledonia. Although most decision-making powers will be controlled by the collegial local Government in 2014, there is no guarantee that the ‘Republic of Kanaky’ will become a tangible reality after the referendum. However, the principle of Kanak sovereignty has already been asserted in the Nouméa Agreement, through recognition of Kanak identity within a broader Caledonian citizenship – which may become full nationality after 2014. In this context, as New Caledonia engaged in this progressive decolonization process, two distinct political Kanak strategies have emerged in recent years. The paper addresses the cleavages that have emerged between pro-independence and ‘indigenous’ Kanak activists, through an ethnographic description of this phenomenon on a local scale, namely a political conflict concerning a water conveyance project in the Northern Province.
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Keywords: New Caledonia; decolonization; indigenous activism; mining; negotiation; water

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre de Recherche et de Documentation sur l'Océanie (CREDO), CNRS, Marseille, France

Publication date: July 1, 2012

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