Bananas in New Caledonian Kanak Society: Their Socio-Cultural Value in Relation with their Origins

Kagy, Valerie
Carreel, Francoise
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
The introduction of bananas into New Caledonia is directly linked with the arrival of various peoples on the islands of the Pacific. The genetic characterisation of bananas cultivated in Asia and in the Pacific (Carreel 1993,1994, Lebot et al. 1993) has enabled their relation with wild species to be demonstrated which in turn can be used to put forward strong hypotheses concerning the various migrations of people in the Pacific area and to better understand the socio-cultural role that the banana cultivars Maoli and Popoulou occupy in New Caledonia's Kanak society some 3500 years after their introduction. At the present time there are still "true" bananas and "others". The former which were introduced by the first people to arrive have a sacred ancestral value as well as a social role, while the latter, introduced during the period of colonisation have gradually become revenue generating crops.
Kagy V, Carreel F. 2004. Bananas in New Caledonian Kanak society: their socio-cultural value in relation with their origins. Ethnobotany Res Appl 2:29–35.
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