Affinities and Empires:¾ Tales from the Pacific

Notes from a voyage. Baie de la Moselle, Noumea Harbor, New Caledonia. The cargo ships are moored up from the yachts and fishing boats. All of this can be observed from the hulking ferries, and the waterfront shops along the Rue Jules Ferry, offering hats, pareos, and hundred Pacific franc books with images of the famous islands and reefs, fish cake from China, and squid seasoned in Sendai. Beyond the circle of rocks and islands, the Pacific ocean, hot and blue heading down to the Anse Vata. Along the Avenue Georges Clemenceau, daily bus schedules to the Tjibaou Cultural Center, celebrating Kanak arts and history, tour packages promoting other French territories in Polynesia. Posters of flowers and beaches and broad smiling faces; in humid book stores, ragged copies of Mwa véé, Le Mariage Franco-Tahitien, Do Kamo, and Islands of Love, along with numerous essays on “les evenements,” the French and Kanak violence which claimed so many lives—including Jean-Marie Tjibaou’s—in nationalist and liberation struggles of the last decades.

I think of an 1888 survey of South Pacific islands by diplomat Charles Victor Crosnier de Varigny arguing, “Each of the European races has its own mode of colonization…the battle in Oceania is between England, personifying the spirit of conquest, the substitution of the white for the native race, and France, in which is incarnated a profoundly human genius which allows two distinct races to live side by side on the same soil.” Denouncing the crass force of England and its lost colonies (they destroyed the Australian aborigines and the thirteen Atlantic colonies revolted), de Varigny presented the superior fidelity of “our most beautiful possessions” in the Pacific—the paradise of Tahiti, the prosperity of New Caledonia, the solid Catholic faith of Wallis and Futuna–a portrait of affection and gratitude.[1]

The Tjibaou Center has been called a “gift” of cultural recognition of the French state for Kanak culture. Oceanic empire built on narrations of affinity and affection mark three centuries of accommodation and contested claims. Ann Stoler has drawn out the “tense and tender ties” of the Dutch and French in Indonesia and Vietnam; Vince Rafael has excavated the White Love of Filipino elites for supposed American progressivism and Japanese pan-Asian modernity; Sonia Faessel has explored the force of eros in South Pacific storytelling; John Hirst has played out the unifying narrative of Australia as the forging of a “Sentimental Nation.”[2] In New Caledonia, conciliation and association are framed by other Pacific legacies, of Eastern Polynesian idylls from Bougainville to Gauguin’s Polynesia, the Sacred Heart Passions of missionaries and Wallisian kings, to l’amour de la patrie that shaped tales of love and empire for monarchs, diplomats, collaborators, and gunboat commanders.

By narrating tales of love in the history of French empire in the Pacific—a shifting series of strategic and sentimental geographies ranging from Southeast Asia to the Society Islands–we see endless variations in proclamations of Christ’s brotherly passion in Futuna, military writings on native resistance in Tahiti, the organizing familial principle for administrators in New Caledonia, the conjugal narratives of “Indochina’s” history, debates over the possibility of Japanese affection. Missionaries regularly employed “love” as well as novelists, patriots as well as traders and adventurers. Max Radiguet concluded his The Last Savages about the Marquesas islands (1842-1859) with the line, “the presence of an armed force at Nukahiva will only result in fear and respect for the name of France. That is already something, but it remains now to make it loved and blessed.” [3]

In the evening the Place des Cocotiers is crowded with Wallisians—ten percent of the immigrant population—by residents and visitors from Papua New Guinea and Fiji, young tourists from Tokyo following the ubiquitous Japanese signs, and Vietnamese restaurant and shopkeepers, settled for family connections, former engineers, teachers, and musicians. Civic posters promote a multicolored society.

An Empire of Love? In the mid-twentieth century the Cambodian prince Sisowath Youtévong had provided an ideal expression of this politically amorous vision: “France has gathered around her many civilizations which have marked the artistic, philosophical, and spiritual history of humanity; these civilizations… consent to enrich themselves, to love and to serve, but not to give themselves up. What is created in the habits of the common life, voluntarily accepted or not, is not a relation of servitude, but one of love.”[4]

It is exactly the tensions between such love and servitude that I examine as they manifest themselves in the shaping of empire. Pacific empire is itself drawn upon a template of affinities, obligations, and contested ideologies of care in nations and state projecting power upon islands and beaches. The important point here is that “empire” was and is never merely a blatant exercise of force and contempt, but a force exercised through institutions and ideologies of transformation, and affection. At its most insidious it was rendered attractive, and simultaneously adopted and appropriated, from mission Christianity to regional nationalisms.

Vilsoni Hereniko has suggested the difficulty of disentanglement from European and American empires as have other critics trying to understand the world through an “Oceanic Imaginary.” Hereniko suggests that globalization, commercial capitalism, and nation-state encroachments are not as great dilemmas for Pacific worlds as is the “colonization of the mind,” to wit, that visions of Pacific island peoples appropriating imported goods are not necessarily a function of economic dependency, but something more insistent: that they have modeled themselves on the colonizers. Caroline Sinaviana has similarly suggested that the great dilemmas are not the nation state and globalism, but internalized colonialism, the psychosocial and emotional aspects of a closed subjectivity.[5]

In tourist literature and local archives, I search for the traces of emotion and affinity, empire as love: not an individual sentiment, but an organizing force. In tales from Asia and Ocenia “love” was never merely a generic island sensuality but an unstable and potentially violent series of contested crossings underscored by multiple, highly political appropriations of devotion, care, sacrifice, and sexuality. “Love” infused tales of affection and alliance, family and loyalty, and thus of struggles in nation and empire.

Under a bright sun, St. Joseph’s cathedral marks the Noumean landscape, looking down over the Centre Ville, as will the Marist missions along the Hienghúne and Touho coasts. The school of the Sacre Coeur on Boulevard Vauban in Noumea is centered around the statue of Marcellin Champagnat of the Marist Brothers. I think of their first martyr. In the central Pacific islands of Wallis and Futuna, Christian missions established a Catholic influence in Oceania, self-described by Marist Fathers as “the love of a priest for his flock…the love of the same for his child; even more…the love of Jesus Christ for his church. In Rome this love would become commemorative veneration as the Pope agreed to declare a 1889 beatification of Father Pierre Chanel, killed on the island of Futuna a generation earlier, thus making him the first martyr of the Church in Oceania; his beatification would later be confirmed by his 1954 canonization as Saint Pierre Chanel by Pope Pius XII. [6]

Such overlayering of authority dramatically affected political relations, like those between a suspicious monarch Niuliki on Futuna, and his convert son. Where the king argues “my rights are abolished by all you believe,” Méitala intones, “Your rights, no! Your errors!” Niuliki’s position is subsumed to the Marist’s power of love as the son tells his father, “since I have loved God our holy master, I have even more love for you, I know better to recognize this.”[7] That love is no longer under the chiefly rule of the father, but the Marist’s authority of the Father.

The struggle over such love continues. At the Centre Tjibaou an exhibition of the Pasteur Maurice Leenhardt features a translation of a “parole” in eight local languages: “Dieu est amour, Dieu seul amourÄ” Tjibaou’s own words are illuminated in transparent panels: “If you read the Old Testament you will find similarities with Kanak culture, the myths, the genealogies, etc.” If you speak of Greco-Latin Christianity, I don’t knowÄ” The force of God’s love is there, but in Oceanic fashion and meaning, turned both to strong faith and practice and liberation politics.

Boulevard Vauban, the quiet road fronting the escarpment of the Valleé du Génie, rolls along from the school of the Sacre Coeur to a peach-colored batiment surrounded by a white grille and mast flying the tricolor. Its sober pediment announces Commandement Supérieur des Forces Armeés, Pacifique, while two metal plaques intone, “Protected zone: entry forbidden without authorization.” Just down the hill a souvenir shop features Hinano Beer T-shirts and the famous stylized vahine of French Polynesia. The military and the vahine take me to the Society Islands; at Farepiti wharf the inter-island boats dock from Tahiti and Raiatea and other islands carrying cargo, passengers, tourists to the postcard views of Bora Bora; markets, craft centers, laundries foreground the famous blue lagoons and green peaks.

The case of French Polynesia is steeped in generations of images from Bougainville’s eighteenth-century islands of love to Gauguin’s paintings. Years of armed resistance to a French seizure of Papeete in 1841 and decades of guerilla warfare are aesthetically subsumed to tales, like the operatic pleasures of French exoticist Pierre Loti’s liaisons rendered for the European stage: “I saw brilliant French officers come down from the Neptune,” and “it is our land of love, island of dreams,” while closing with the anguish of “Manéhu,” who is warned that while Frenchmen may come to Polynesia, Polynesians may not go to Europe. “No Manéhu, you cannot follow him to France…the flowers of our land fade in the land of exile and lose their attraction. They need the sun, the scents, the mystery, the enchantment of our forests.” The islander may not act, but must remain remote and wistfully preserved, only to wait on the island of dreams, and ultimately despair, “Oh! To be no longer loved, to be a thing vile and without radiance! Sweet past times of light, fatal awakening!”[8]

The awakening was long delayed. Bounded as colonial territories, the islands became closed to grand legacies of Polynesian navigation and migration, to the kinships, exchanges, and encounters of the Oceanic world. Imperial narratives of the isles fix on apartness, collapsing the heroic eighteenth-century European romanticism of Cook, Bougainville, and Chateaubriand into the nineteenth century visions of sensual expiration of Loti and Gauguin. In 1886 Guy de Maupassant wrote of Loti, “across the mists of an ocean unknown to our eyes, he showed us an adorable island of love, and he remade with Loti and Rarahu the poem of Paul and Virginie. We did not ask ourselves if the tale was true, as it spoke to us with such charm.”[9] Maupassant touches the essential points: “Tahiti” was a singular land of love in a literary tradition which set aside truths of warfare, of event and meaning.

Back in New Caledonia, at Bourail, the hills and plains, the solid “Caldoche” or settler community, the cemeteries, the museum displaying the artifacts of the settlers and an enclosed case, or great residence behind. In New Caledonia, histories of love could mean neither paradise nor salvation, but rather redemption based upon solid imputed bourgeois values of work and family: the model of Pacific empire as domestic bliss. Free settlers joined with former penal colony convicts. Condemned women were sent to the South Pacific as prisoners; not just to serve out terms, but as prisoners uniquely targeted for marriage with liberated male former-convicts. The governor at Noumea filed regular reports to Paris, such as an 1873 memo indicating “all of the female prisoners have been received with all the precautions demanded by their sex and their position.” The important part of the report is the governor’s obviously proud declaration that “of fifty women come to the colony, thirty-four have already contracted marriage, two more are authorized to do so, and the majority of these households live rather comfortably.” In establishing its plans for housing the female convicts transported to New Caledonia, the Ministry of Colonies envisioned “about one hundred women and ten to twelve Catholic sisters to watch over them. Although this penitentiary ought to be absolutely isolated from that of the men, it is useful that it be as little distant from the locale of the released prisoners working concessions, in order to facilitate marriages.”[10]

This project of marriage and affection was reappropriated, even by some of the French colony’s fiercest opponents, such as the great Kanak chief Atai, who led a bloody rebellion against settler encroachments in 1878. Yet Atai knew well, and in his own way shared a joint Caledonian fate for the politics of love, violence, and family–whether created by governors or destroyed by colonialism. In commander Henri Riviúre’s writings we find a portrait of an anonymous Madame X, an “intelligent, active, very courageous” colonial widow and her encounters with an Atai unfamiliar to most journalistic accounts, yet one who so perfectly captures the islands’s hopes and dilemmas. “He was her neighbor and came often to see her. He brought her fruits and she offered him coffee, bread, and wine. He smoked his pipe on the veranda.” The two apparently talked quite a bit, and, “One fine day, he proposed, suddenly and serenely, to marry her.” Madame, stupefied, refused the offer. “Atai repeated the proposition several times and was not pleased.” Garnier goes so far as to suggest, “his resentment, perhaps, had something to do with the revolt. There is almost always a female reason determining great projects.” Madame’s house was untouched during the violence; notes Garnier, “Many times I told Madame X…that she should have surrendered herself and she would have prevented the Insurrection. She did not disagree.”[11]

In New Caldonia, Tokinese, Japanese, Javanese were brought at the turn of the twentieth century to labor in plantations and mines. Everywhere, from Melanesia to Polynesia to Australia and New Zealand, the faces and peoples of Asia. The names of Japanese and Korean corporations, the Chinese newspapers and shops, the rows of Thai and Vietnamese businesses, restaurants, giftshops. In Noumea on the Rue de Verdun Trinh auto-radio squares up its fences against Restaurant Indochine. Monsieur Hoang of the nearby Vilbar snack corner dispenses advice on marrying Laotians. I am reminded how tales of love also frame a chronology of France and Cochinchine, Annam, Tonkin, Laos, and Cambodia as they were protected, possessed, and colonized into “Indochina.”

From the middle nineteenth century, military men like Pierre Loti or Captain Francis Garnier declared missions of passionate fraternalism become patriotism, adventures transmuted into the “Conquest of Hearts” of geographer Auguste Pavie at the turn of the century. The “possession of the native” promoted by colonialists was realized in civil policy of the early twentieth century through state-approved mixed liaisons and colonial marriage fictions. The possibilities and limits of this imperial romance were tested and constantly renegotiated by generations of Vietnamese like Bui Tanh Vanh or Tran Van Tung, who accepted France as affectionate mother, brother, or lover, or Nguy¡n An Ninh, who reversed the romance, intoning, “it is not for a sentimental project that France has gone to IndochinaÄone would have to be the most stupid sort of colonial to believe in “the Civilizing Mission.”[12]

At the Vilbar snack corner, M. Hoang tells of his life as a concert musician in Vietnam—he was a cellist. I think of the essays of Bui Tanh Vanh, who founded a European classical music school in Hué in the 1920s. In the colonial era Bui imagined himself the (perhaps unappreciated) son of a loving French mother. “It would be na´ve to think that France has crossed seven thousand kilometers of ocean to come in good will, extending us a hand, without expecting anything of us. She perfectly has all the rights that justice confers upon an adoptive mother.” Bui even asserts a parallelism between French gunboat officers and motherly love: “the policy of our affectionate adoptive mother is the same as that applied by a generous ship’s captain regarding strangers stowed away on board.” He also finds common cause with “our good adoptive brothersÄthey honor their mother as they make themselves honorable; they love all as they make themselves loved.”[13]

Colonial functionaries promoted this vision. The geographer and diplomat Auguste Pavie’s best known book, based on his journals and oral histories, was his A la conquúte des coeurs (Conquest of Hearts), a popular work of ethnographic romance. Georges Clemenceau himself wrote the preface to the 1921 edition, calling it “the best colonial book that I know.” What the “Tiger” of French politics so admired was not a tale of ferocious adventure, but of one man, “barefoot, without provisions,” marching though Southeast Asia “toward that ideal to make the lands you crossed French with the assent of their inhabitants.” What Clemenceau particularly fixed on was Pavie’s ability to relate stories of “populations you have seducedÄand which you love; you have dedicated yourself to inspire in them the sentiments for France that you yourself have for her.” The result of this was a particular kind of empire: “having given birth to devotion, you have, in gaining their hearts, conquered lands which, morally, give themselves up upon knowing you.”[14]

One who certainly did put his heart into it was the essayist Tran Van Tung, whose R¡ves d’un campagnard Annamite traces the self-conscious sentimental education of a village boy longing for a French identity. Governor General Jules Brévié wrote a preface describing “the obstinate ascent of a little Annamite peasant toward what might be conveniently called Western Civilization.” The Governor could hardly have asked for a more laudatory text, for here love and ideology are remarkably aligned. As Tran puts it: “The France I love is that of all the Great MenÄhow could I not love her when she bears me all reasons to live, when my head is full of her thoughts, when my heart is full of her sentiments?” This perfectly realized subject of the Empire of Love further avows, “this love that I have for you, for your people, I want to keep it in all its purity, in all its freshness to communicate it to my brothers, to my friends, to my readersÄto engrave in fiery letters your well-loved names in the memories of all children of Annam.” To this enthusiastically pedagogical project Tran exults “O my France, you will never know how much I admire, respect, and love you. You will never know all the depth of my love.” This astonishingly romantic reverie even has the author confessing, “My France, will you believe me now, if I tell you quietly that I love you more than my own country, more than my little Indochina?”[15] That love, of course, was not always shared, and did not linger.

Within such an imperial vision, no country could seriously claim to be home to a truly civilized people without a “proper” foundation in “love.” I think again of the “gift” giving of the French government, or in other territories, the massive foreign aid given over the last decades by Japan. The everyday influence is reciprocated at the Asical market on Noumea’s Rue Sebastopol—vente des produits asiatiques—where imported Japanese ramen, shoyu, mirin, and sencha pack the displays. I am reading Sandra Tarte’s engrossing coverage of concessions of fishing and timber rights, of Japanese capital’s enormous impact in Oceania. I think again to great deal of attention to questions of ‘love’ in French Meiji-era writings about Japan, and the logic by which interrogations of love might even have explained Japan’s nineteenth-century successes in commerce and political economy.

Ludovic Naudeau’s Le Japon moderne suggested that Japanese men were quick to build up the ‘grandeur of Japan’ which threatened European commercial and military interests in Asia because unencumbered by the demands of intimate relations and la vie amoureuse. The idea of romantic love was presumably non-existent. In a detailed study of La Société Japonaise, scholar André Bellessort, remarked how both the Japanese and French were fond of what seemed to him theatrical farces and swashbuckling heroics (musketeer and samurai tales) yet concluded, ‘to be sure, one must not push the comparison too far! I know how very much our conception of life and especially of love distinguishes us from the Japanese.’ In fact he argued, ‘The idea of love… hardly flowers among the Japanese. This individual sentiment does not fit into the frameworks of society.'[16]

Individual sentiment was the presumptive basis of morality and the historical development of civilization. The question of romantic love thus became critical to grasping whether Japan were truly or falsely modern. Pursuing love was the way to go to the heart of things, to see the real behind the manners and masks. What would it mean if a civilization with Krupp cannons, French naval officers and silk factories, heavy industry, telegraphs, armies, schools, and railways should be found incapable of love? What Europeans prized as ‘love’ and ‘affection’ were, presumably, alien to Japan. Suggested Bellessort, ‘In the eyes of the Japanese a marriage for love is…a sort of forfeiture, at the very least the admission of a contemptible weakness.’ Affection, he argued ‘is admitted, but in the manner of a parasitic plant.’

Yet however broadly Europeans condemned the emotional insincerity of modern Japan, these same French commentators still widely agreed that ‘the most noble sentiment’ of love did in fact exist, and quite powerfully, in Japan: it was called patriotism. Here was truly the site of Japanese passions, the manifestation of ‘the sentiments of love and of ardent ambition.'[17] Writing in 1895 at the time of the Sino-Japanese War, political journalist G. Apport, despite his ambivalence about Japanese imperial designs, commented with admiration: ‘The Japanese love their homeland with a passion which is not always clear, but which necessarily must be respected.’ Japanese diplomat the Baron Suyematsu would concur, ‘A nation is on the right road when it places its loyalty in the sovereign and love of the country above all other private and petty considerations.'[18]

Here was anxious European recognition that “love” could be both an ennobling emotion, and also a national force. As travel writer Maurice Dekoba had it, “I do not mean to say that people of the West are wanting in patriotism, but with us, especially in France, it is, so to speak, sporadic and manifests itself only in critical moments. It does not in the least resemble the patriotism of the Japanese who is constant and expresses every day, every hour, the uninterrupted and feverish condition of his mind, and his love of collectivity.” [19] Within an imperial view, what most threatened was the notion that another could love—and organize around that love—a contrary political force.

That force has many faces. Jean-Marc Regnault welcomes me in Papeete, “the myth of a terrestrial paradise attached to the name of Tahiti occludes the fact that a mouvement revendicatif could develop.”[20] In Noumea the evening is filled with young dancers in cultural performance, proudly determined before a crowd which simply appreciates; few cameras flash for souvenirs, there is little reflexive applause; it is like a great gathering of families. Yet the dazzling color and sound of the dancing is only one tale of the program. At the bus exchange the young Kanak men stamp out their own beat in their baggy trousers and running shoes. One woman appreciates the rhythms, tells me she is from the north of the island and would like to see a nickel mine and factory to help development aid which, she believes, all currently goes to stockholders in Paris, and clans and politicians in the south. We, the KanakÄ” she comments, noting her disapproval of Philippine workers being invited to work the Goro southern mine project while fiercely illuminating the tactile beauty of Kanak carvings and art. Her community in art and action. Tjibaou had put aside the distinction between cultural traditions and political acts: “the refusal of colonization is for us a tradition.” I travel north to Hienghene to meet his son. “You may see yourself in a fun-house mirror, but it’s still you.”[21]

The collapsing of Oceanic culture and politics, the affinities of community and the energies of colonial resistance has me thinking of the deforming imperial visions running through seascapes and littoral cultures. Gifts, affinities, and ships point me to not the land and sea, but to the Àscapes themselves. This, as theorist Kenneth Olwig reminds, is a derivation not unlike that of friendship or citizenship, which is clearly to note that it is a community notion. Thus a seascape is primarily and necessarily founded upon a community of memory, custom, and practice. This is a divided notion—between the place of memory, custom, and community, and that of the imperial power to view, from a dominant vision, “seascapes” themselves; in considering our themes we are radically implicated in these apparent disjunctures between the local and the global or imperial.

Equally to note is the critical observation that these “ships” are indeed literally “ships.” That is, they are continuously mobile and negotiated constructions, bearing meaning yet dependent upon the familiars who create them—if we strongly consider such terms as “citizenship,” with all of its evocations of the ship of state, we see uniquely how it is very much a question of “representation.” In the image then, to represent the seascape, is also to struggle with the notion of representation—the politics of community, accountability, and voice, and the struggle over those seascapes which are unrepresented, which have no “ships,” whether communities evoked, rights to be enjoyed or demanded, or mobile cultures in which to participate.[22]

This in fact is where much contest is, as seascape scholars and activists such as Sue Jackson and Nonie Sharp will tell us. Imperial histories and littoral cultures meet met over the question of the meeting of the landscape and the sea. The Japanese shops in French Polynesia make me think of Hokkaido, where on the windy beach outside Abishiri, I shop for Japanese dried fish and pickled vegetables. A local official encourages our spending, though informs us that we could take back across the Pacific whatever we wanted from the sea, but not from the land. Crab shells and beach shells were fine, but had to be carefully divested of soil. Plants and animals were strictly forbidden, but fish and sea animals not. The logic of this is compelling; states and governments wish to restrict the transfer, the contagion and ecological imperialism of foreign and invader species. Yet, simultaneously, the sea is not subject in the same way:, the sea is one and what will wash ashore on one island or continent will also wash up on different shores across the world. So, as with histories? Are continents, or nations divided, while “oceans connect?” From where will be drawn the restrictions of soil, but the open carry bags filled with dried fish?

This makes me think of J. Cordell’s juridical reading of “the nature of the sea as a continuous water column” and the “freedom of the seas” convention that “living resources it contained were thought to be, by definition, “common property.” He examines this question not in a celebration of dynamic global flows, but their opposite: the assertion of local communities, the question of indigenous peoples and sea-rights, marine tenure.[23]

The Territorial Museum in Noumea somberly displays magnificent Kanak fish traps, hooks, spears, and tools. But it is still a museum, struggling to make the enthographic conservation of the past into a vital and contested present. Heading down to Australia and New Zealand, the French colonial model is in my mind, but the power of affinity, affection, and collective attachment have me reading Nonie Sharp’s challenging of national (and international) voices as the sole expressions of political fellow-ship. In Saltwater People she cites Sir Tipene O’Regan of the Waitangi Tribunal Fisheries Commission: “When someone wants to take what is someone else’s, they say it belongs to everyone.”[24] The sea is supposedly a region of tides and currents, endlessly circulating, endlessly available to appropriation—possession by territorial, colonial, imperial laws and jurisdictions. From Manifest Destiny and Terra Nullius to Mare Nullius; the empty sea. Our legal colleagues will no doubt detail for us John Selden’s 1663 Mare Clausum: The Right and Dominion of the Sea, or Hugo Grotius’ doctrine of the “natural law” of water and the freedom of the high seas—a liberty supporting, notably, the Dutch East India Company which Selden’s doctrine was attempting to exclude.[25]

Along the Torres Straits between Indonesia and the Northern Territories of Australia, at the edge of Arnhem land and Dampier land, the criteria of exclusive marine tenure zones are historically and juridically renegotiated along questions of how nation states and body politics have appropriated as open to all then the land and sea liberties which were once provinces of families, clans, and communities of Yolngu and Bardi. Arguments divide over questions like fishing rights and estuary conservation, the “history” vs “tradition” of protection and harvesting privileges. At stake is an apparent question: is the littoral a resource and site of development, or of an “obligation of care,” a “habitat of affinity” crossed by “sacred sites and dreaming paths at sea?”[26]

Back in Noumea, I am still unsure of where empires of love and devotion, and obligations of care and habitats of affinity engage. It is clearer that the question is unfulfilled by any simple dualities suggesting that local communities are composed of obligations and affinities while the colonial or imperial nations are driven by vagaries of legality and commercial interest. What shall be a littoral culture, how determined its exchange networks and association to land and sea? At once it is the Bardi, hunting fish, shellfish, turtle, the trochus shell, tied to the reef and village by sacred sites, native title, and ancestral descendence. Is it also Noumea, Papeete, or Sydney harbor, where stories of discoverers, convicts, settlements, and islanders, from Eora to Kanak to Maohi come together? To the one side, the ports and passages, the museums of maritime history, fishing boats, cargo ships, and yachts, warships and replicas of the Bounty, state-funded vitrines dedicated to Polynesian navigation and European exploring. To the other, the waterfront of hotels, galleries, banks and trading houses, where tourists ply the promenades and artists in white and ochre paint intone upon the didgeridoo, the Lebanese bakers and the Chinatown which broaches the edge of the sparkling digital IMAX entertainment center. This too is a littoral culture, marketing pleasures and romance, one which has built its empire upon tales of love.


1 Notes are incomplete. Charles Crosnier de Varigny, L’Océan Pacifique (1888).

2 Laura Ann Stoler, Tensions of Empire; Vince Rafael, White Love; John Hirst, Sentimental Nation. For a generous overview, see Sonia Faessel and Michel Pérez, eds., Eros et Thanatos dans le Pacifique Sud, Noumea: C.O.R.A.I.L. (2001), esp. Faessel’s “Eros aux colonies: fantasmes et pulsions de mort,” pp. 157-171. Also M. Jolly and L. Manderson, Sites of Desire/Economies of Pleasure: Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, Chicago: U of Chicago P (1996).

3 Max Radiguet, Les derniers sauvages: la vie et les moeurs aux Iles Marquises, 1842-59, Paris: Ed. Duchartre et Van Buggenhoudt (1929), p. 234; Laura Ann Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault’s History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things, Durham: Duke UP.

4 Girardet, L’Idée coloniale en France, pp. 271-2. Bronwen Douglas, “From Invisible Christians to Gothic Theater: The Romance of the Millenial in Melanesian Anthropology,” Current Anthropology, vol. 42, no. 5 (December 2001), pp. 615-650.

5 Vilsoni Hereniko, “David and Goliath,” Caroline Sinavaiana Gabbard; The Contemporary Pacific, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Spring 2001), pp. 163-5, 171-2.

6 L.C. Servant, Ecrits de Louis Catherin Servant, Paris: Pierre Tequi (reissue 1996), p. 143; René Pinon, “La France des antipodes,” Revue des deux mondes, v. 158 (1900), p. 807.

7 M. Morel, Derniúre Journée et Martyre du Bienhereux Pierre Louis Marie Chanel, drame en vers, Lyon: E. Vitte (1889), p. 11.

8 Pierre Loti, André Alexandre, Georges Hartmann, L’Ile du reve, music by Reynaldo Hahn, Paris: Calmann-Lévy 1898, p. 25.

9 Guy de Maupassant, “L’Amour dans les livres et dan la vie,” Gil Blas (July 6, 1886).

10 Correspondence, C.A.O.M., H 1834, no. 947 (October 4, 1873), no. 532 (November 19, 1872).

11 Henri Riviúre, Souvenirs de la Nouvelle Caledonie, pp. 139-142, 159.

12 Nguy¡n An Ninh, La France en Indochine (pamphlet, 1925), pp. 1-5, 10-12.

13 Bui-Tanh-Van, La France: Relations de voyage, Hué : Dac-Lap (1923), pp. 37-41.

14 Auguste Pavie, A la Conqu¡te des coeurs, Paris: PUF (1921), reedition 1947, pp. xxxi-xxxii. On Pavie as minister, C.A.O.M. 46 APC/ c. 1, doss. 4: press clippings “M. Pavie est rentrée.”

15 Tran Van Tung, whose R¡ves d’un campagnard Annamite

16 Ludovic Naudeau, Le Japon Moderne. Son évolution, Paris: Flammarion, (1909); 345-7. André Bellesort, La Société Japonaise (Paris: Perrin & Cie. (1904), 302, 315; on theater, Shionoyo Kei, Cyrano et les samurai, Paris: Société Franco-Japonais (1986).

17 Charles Loonen, Le Japon Moderne (Paris), 120.

18 G. Apport, ‘Deux Révolutions au Japon,’ 661; Suyematsu, 139.

19 Maurice Dekoba, A Frenchman in Japan, London: T. Wener (1936), p. 69.

20 Jean-Marc Regnault, Te Metua: L’Echec d’un nationalisme tahitien.

21 Notes from conversations with Jean-Philippe Tjibaou, Ka Wabwana, Hienghene, Nov. 2002

22 Kenneth Olwig, Landscape and the Body Politic

23 J. Cordell, A Sea of Small Boats, Cambridge, MA: Cultural Survival (1989). J. Cordell, “Indigenous Peoples Coastal-Narrative Domains: Some Matters of Cultural Documentation,” Turning the Tide: Indigenous Peoples and Sea Rights Conference, Northern Territories University of Darwin (1993).

24 Nonie Sharp, “The Water is Not Empty: Cross-Cultural Issues in Conceptualising Sea-Space,” coll. AIATSIS; also Sharp, Saltwater People: The Waves of Memory, Crow’s Nest NSW: Allen & Unwin (2002).

25 Sharp, “The Water Is Not Empty,” p. 10. Also, R.E. Johannes and J.W. MacFarlane, Traditional Fishing in the Torres Straits Islands, Hobart: CSIRO (1991), chps. 1-3 on “islanders’ participation in maritime industries.”

26 J. Cordell, Turning the Tide, pp. 14, 90; see A. Bergin, “A Rising Tide of Aboriginal Sea Claims: Implications of the Mabo Case in Australia” 8, The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, no 3, (1993). Gary D. Meyers, Malcolm O’Dell, et al. eds., A Sea Change in Land Rights Law: The Extension of Native Title to Australia’s Offshore Areas, Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (1996).