Outcomes of State Territoriality and Mining Development for the Kanak in New Caledonia

Lassila, Maija
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University of Hawai‘i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
In New Caledonia, where a referendum deciding on independence will be held by 2018, processes of state territorialization and neoliberalization have led to an economic and social imbalance between the poorer, largely Kanak-populated North Province and the wealthier, mostly European-populated South Province. As a result of historically and clearly articulated definitions of a coherent indig- enous Kanak identity, however, the Kanak independence movement has been able to tie its sovereignty expectations to the development of the mining industry in the north. I argue that unequal processes of state territorialization and the neoliberal, decolonizing state have influenced the outcomes of the local mining industry, resulting in different expectations for the future in the two regions. In the North, the Koniambo nickel project is advancing Kanak sovereignty develop- ment, while, in the south, Vale’s mining project and its pact of corporate social responsibility and social development with the southern Kanak communities is indirectly strengthening French power as well as co-opting Kanak protests. This essay reviews how both mining projects work as what James Ferguson has called the “anti-politics machine” of development, hiding the roots of the inequality and poverty experienced by people aspiring to recognition and freedom and leaving little space for alternative imaginaries of future (1994).
territorialization, neoliberalization, mining, sovereignty
Lassila, M. 2016. Outcomes of State Territoriality and Mining Development for the Kanak in New Caledonia. The Contemporary Pacific 28 (2): 384-409.
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