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- A very interesting element in regards to indigenous francophone and colonial studies is the absence of scholarship on Ma'ohi writers; despite the fact that these indigenous writers actively contribute to the literary production of French Polynesia. The fact that France seems reluctant to acknowledge the validity of Ma'ohi literary production may indeed be indicative of the subtleties of racist colonial discourse. As Robert Nicole suggests, Ma'ohi writers, critics, intellectuals, artists, and musicians examine the nature of the collective Ma'ohi marginalization under French colonial rule and consequently, have developed discursive strategies that hopefully will lead to the liberation of the Ma'ohi people (174) -- a liberation from a French colonial identity, I believe, as well as a cultural/socio-political liberation.
- In an attempt to situate these discursive strategies, I would like to argue that although French Polynesia is still very much under French colonial rule, Ma'ohi literary production is symbolically post(-)colonial. Consequently, Ma'ohi writers produce post(-)colonial literatures in which the artistic, political, cultural, linguistic, and literary ideologies devise a metaphoric rupture from French colonialism that dually serves as a mode of passive resistance against colonial opp(supp)ression. It was not until the 1980s that reo ma'ohi (Ma'ohi indigenous language) was reintroduced/permitted into the schools and determined an official language alongside French. The 1980s also launched a cultural and social renaissance in which tattooing was revived, traditional dance and music schools cropped up across the islands, and a national movement to promote a Ma'ohi cultural resurgence prompted a return to indigenousness through the arts. As a result, more writers and poets - notably, women writers and poets -- started producing works in reo ma'ohi, French, and franco-Tahitian dialect in a manner that redefines colonial literature. Not only do I want to show how Ma'ohi literature fits a post(-)colonial paradigm, but I want to address the politic(o)lonial implications of the colonizer's refusal to acknowledge Ma'ohi literary production.
- The Ma'ohi return to indigenousness is extremely complex. The French government acknowledges and encourages those aspects of cultural capital such as tattooing, sculpture, music, and dance that promote the tourist economy and perpetuate the myth of Tahiti, yet it ignores and fails to acknowledge Ma'ohi writers as valid, intelligent, and articulate contributors to the intellectual arena. Victoria Lockwood reveals that little is known about Tahiti and the islands outside of the tropical paradise mystique. She acknowledges that this territory has continued status as a French possession, is the site of France's controversial nuclear testing installations, has a stagnant, underdeveloped economy, and is heavily dependent on French aid. Furthermore, its rapid growing population is "locked between two competing worlds and identities: one, French, dominant, and 'civilized,' the other, [Ma'ohi], subordinate, and sauvage" (Lockwood 3). It is my contention that this racial and class dichotomy is to blame for the scantiness of Ma'ohi literary production and absence of scholarship. As to Ma'ohi literature in publication, it is only published locally in Tahiti, and even in French Polynesia, Ma'ohi works remain relatively unknown and unavailable to the general population that is, for the most part, an oral culture that doesn't read. French publishing houses have openly refused to acknowledge this literature (Spitz interview); these works are not included in, or recognized by, the francophone canon. Furthermore, the books published in Tahiti are not easily accessible to the general Ma'ohi population, for not only is illiteracy pervasive, but the average book price exceeds $40 US -- an exorbitant price, especially for a nation riddled with poverty.
- These issues lead me to presume that the French reluctance to recognize, publish, study, and teach Mao'hi literature outside the microcosm of French Polynesia is a stance that perpetuates the myth of Tahiti while discrediting the creative, linguistic, and intellectual capabilities of the Mao'hi people. This lack of acknowledgment exemplifies the subtleties of a racist ideology that fails to recognize the humanity of Mao'hi people while keeping them in a position of intellectual subordination and inequality. Consequently, Mao'hi writers who disrupt accepted French patterns of representation do so in a manner that threatens the established order. Decidedly, the colonial government has undermined Ma'ohi intellectualism, and as Nicole suggests:Colonialism's inability to reproduce and inculcate itself totally and harmoniously over colonized peoples and spaces mean that, apart from its own inherent contradictions and weaknesses, colonial discourse came face to face with an extremely complex and vibrant entity: an indigenous ethos. (167)It is exactly this indigenous ethos that is attempting to rise above internalized notions of inferiority and powerlessness through Ma'ohi authors who give another side to French Polynesian life, one that often conflicts with the exoticism of tourist brochures.
- I also find it extremely ironic that 'radical' French feminism ignores the participation of Ma'ohi women's French literary production, especially since French feminists are critical of inequality, the patriarchy, the status of third world women, and male/female dynamics of domination and subordination. This absence of scholarship on Mao'hi writers suggests colonial racism and colonialist attitudes that fail to see Ma'ohi people as other than childlike noble savages. In order to establish my argument that Ma'ohi literature is metaphorically post(-)colonial, I will show how the Ma'ohi reject aspects of colonial assimilative mentality through a return to the old ways, a resurrection of cultural, linguistic, artistic, and spiritual indigenous values, and a reinvention, hence a Ma'ohi personalization, of the colonizer's language. I will also argue how the metaphoric political rupture in French Polynesia categorizes Ma'ohi literature as post(-)colonial.
- The term "post-colonialism" is used most often to denote the historical and literary periods after colonized areas have broken away from the dominating empire. But what happens when people are still very much colonized on their ancestral lands, in which the dominant government has all but pulled out its physical presence, and left tutored half-caste Ma'ohi/Europeans to perpetuate colonial attitudes and policies? All the while, the indigenous majority of the population is left undereducated, under-employed, and marginalized from the high standards of living enjoyed by minority Europeans and the new race of French-fluent half-caste Polynesians, known locally as the 'demi.' Stephen Slemon situates his definition of postcolonialism in a manner that very much fits the Ma'ohi condition:[Postcolonialism] proves most useful not when it is used synonymously with a post-independence historical period in once-colonized nations, but rather when it locates a specifically anti- or post-colonial discursive purchase in culture, one which begins at the moment that the colonizing power inscribes itself onto the body and space of its Other and which continues as an often occluded tradition into the modern theatre of neo-colonist international relations. (3)On a parallel with Slemon's comment, I will add that Ma'ohi writers and keepers of cultural traditions engage in anti-colonial practices in a national stance to perpetuate a Ma'ohi cultural identity that is separate from a French colonial identity. Such anti-colonial attitudes therefore reflect a rupture from the dominant Euro-centric worldview, hence permitting the evolution of a metaphoric post-colonial national consciousness. Ma'ohi people are therefore not denotatively postcolonial, but I would like to argue that their situation is very much connotatively post(-)colonial, mainly due to an established Ma'ohi identity that fiercely excludes French/European membership. Furthermore, I will follow Feroza Jussawalla's literary paradigm of the shared characteristics of a post(-)colonial work to show that Ma'ohi literature can indeed be viewed through a post (-)colonial lens.
- To give some background on the importance of establishing a Ma'ohi identity in French Polynesia, I will address issues of Ma'ohi 'national' identity that remain obscure because there is still no such thing as Ma'ohi or even Tahitian citizenship. The Ma'ohi are therefore a distinctive form of postcolonial. Mishra and Hodge situate the phenomenon of a symbolic rupture from a colonial government in which a "symbiotic postcolonial formation has many of the same features as the more exciting postcolonialism of the non-settler countries as they establish their national identity" (Mishra and Hodge 289). Ma'ohi nationalism is therefore a symbolic consciousness, since Ma'ohi are still 'objects' of French rule.
- In 1881, the French "issued a policy of assimilation, incorporating the Tahitian population legally by requiring adherence to the French civil and criminal codes, economically by enforcing a tariff system and other government codes and other government trade regulations, and culturally by imposing the French language, customs and education system" (Lockwood 28). It is not until the late 1970s that Ma'ohi poets commenced to engage in authorship to re-write their colonial destiny through cultural production. Incredibly, French critical scholars and theorists do not recognize Ma'ohi literary production and through reasons perhaps politically complex, Ma'ohi literature is difficult to obtain outside of the Society Islands (see paragraph 4, above). As Nicole explains, many critics' lack of respect for Ma'ohi literary production stems from the belief that since the Ma'ohi are a traditionally oral culture, "writing is a culturally inappropriate medium to express Ma'ohiness" (177). I fully agree with Nicole's repudiation of this false assumption; on the contrary, writing not only empowers the Ma'ohi people, but provides a gateway to liberation, solidarity, and collective identity-consciousness. It also provides the Ma'ohi with Edward Said's contrapuntal voice - an essential voice because since first European contact, Ma'ohi have been (and continue to be) exoticized and spoken for. I would go even further than Nicole: I believe that to deem Ma'ohi writing as a 'culturally inappropriate medium' is racist and supremacist discourse. To insist that the Ma'ohi people remain an exclusively oral culture continues to freeze them and perpetuate their representation by the European seeing eye. Globalization has indeed taken French Polynesia by storm, and since writing is a part of globalization, Ma'ohi written records become a postmodern guarantee of Ma'ohi preservation. Besides, cultures are in a constant state of fluidity; to make presumptions that indigenous cultures should not adopt written traditions while adapting to modernity is to engage in racist discourse. Writing has become a way for Ma'ohi preservers of the culture to see themselves and to engage in self-redefinition. In the case of a traditionally oral rather than orthographic culture, authorship among the Ma'ohi becomes a postmodern tool that creates and reinforces a cultural identity while allowing Ma'ohi people to re-'author' themselves after the trauma of spiritual and cultural displacement and the loss of autonomy.
- For almost twenty years now, there has been an energetic resurgence, a focused resurrection, a strategic reconstruction of Ma'ohi culture. Such intensive cultural 'reconstruction' strongly suggests that a rupture from colonial assimilation has taken place. In re-establishing a homogenous indigenous identity through reconstruction and resurrection, the Ma'ohi people now have a collective identity that excludes French colonial/imperial membership. The French took over the Ma'ohi nation in 1881, establishing colonial rule while insisting that the Ma'ohi deny all aspects of the indigenous psyche to mimic models of French identity. Cultural critic Marshall Sahlins suggests that ethnic identity may be the narcissism of marginal differences (473); if so, then the concept of creating Ma'ohiness subverts previous notions of colonial alterity. Since Ma'ohi people are still a majority population in Eastern Polynesia, the "us" is the Ma'ohi, and the "them" is the French Colonials. This reconstruction reinforces a symbolic self-disenfranchisement from French colonial values, reaffirms cultural identity, and reinstates a sense of Ma'ohi nationhood and community that excludes the French.
- Sahlins situates the importance of maintaining cultural consciousness in light of colonial oppression:Reified notions of cultural differences, as indexed by distinctive customs and traditions, can and have existed apart from any European presence. What distinguishes the current "culturalism" is the claim to one's own mode of existence as a superior value and a political right, precisely in opposition to a foreign-imperial presence. More than an expression of "ethnic identity" -- a normal social-science notion that manages to impoverish the sense of the movement -- this cultural consciousness entails the people's attempt to control their relationships with the dominant society, including control of the technical and political means that up to now have been used to victimize them. (474-475)Using this concept of cultural consciousness, Ma'ohi authors have turned to the pen as opposed to traditional orality to inspire a Ma'ohi re-cultural phenomenon of resistance against colonial rule. In its cohesive totality, this cultural consciousness reaffirms Ma'ohi identity as an empowering regime of self-definition. Furthermore, it reinforces the notion of a rupture from colonial identity to re-affirm indigeneity as empowerment rather than disempowerment. Such subversive tactics, especially the re-establishment of reo ma'ohi, further alienate the French and place them in an alteric position.
- Jussawalla suggests that in post(-)colonial literature, the "theme(s) express a turn toward indigenousness away from the [colonizing] culture" ("(Re)Reading" 123). Such looking toward indigenousness and away from a French identity is readily apparent in Ma'ohi literature. Further, the majority of creative literary energy in French Polynesia is generated by women, a noteworthy yet complex point that would initially be perceived by western critics as feminist, but feminism is a concept that relies on patriarchy in order to define itself, and women in pre-missionary Ma'ohi society did not have to contend with the same gender issues as their European female contemporaries. First of all, pre-contact Ma'ohi society was ambilineal. Discrimination within the society was based on class affiliation, not gender. Women inherited property and had freedoms of movement and physical, sexual, and verbal expression that threatened western notions of patriarchy. Second, marriage in the Judeo-Christian understanding of the concept was unheard of prior to European contact. A woman could choose to be polyandrous or monogamous, but could also choose at any moment to leave a partner for another one, or to be alone. Women did not have to depend economically on men for survival since the earth provided for all needs. Women also had total reproductive control (including infanticide and abortion), competed in sports with and/or against men, and could have as many sexual partners as they pleased. All these women-related issues that threatened European patriarchy and social order are worthy of western feminist study. On the other hand, the current suppression of Ma'ohi literary production suggests a denial on behalf of the French colonial patriarchy to accept Ma'ohi women as intellectuals and instruments of creative literary (re)production; a stance that further sexualizes and conflates stereotypes of island women while discrediting their academic and intellectual capabilities and potentialities. . Each Ma'ohi author has an individual style, but her struggles, her themes, and her essential spirit are all linked by common threads of Ma'ohi solidarity and identity in the midst of French imperialism, colonialism, and nuclear testing. More often than not, Ma'ohi literature reflects a return to indigenousness and a plea to Ma'ohi people to return to their language, to their cultural roots, to attain a renewed level of Ma'ohi consciousness, solidarity, and pride.
- Whether consciously or not, most Ma'ohi writers follow the paradigm for cultural identity, solidarity, and pride set forth by members of the Polynesian Liberation Front during the late 1970s. The PLF initiated a metaphoric rupture prompted through decolonizing the assimilated mind and reemerging with a renewed Ma'ohi consciousness while encouraging a national return to indigenousness. The PLF, through passive resistance, promoted a cultural, linguistic, and political consciousness that stressed indigenous pride as opposed to colonial values of shame. As Frantz Fanon asserts:Colonialism is not satisfied with merely holding a people in its grip and emptying the native's brain of all form and movement. By a kind of perverted logic, it turns to the past of the people, and distorts, disfigures, and destroys it. (210)Prior to the Ma'ohi renaissance, many indigenous people were ashamed of being Ma'ohi and of a past distorted by Europeans. Europeans tended to exaggerate, misinterpret, and misunderstand aspects of Ma'ohi culture such as infanticide, human sacrifice, and sexual freedom that were in direct conflict with European Judeo-Christian ideals of propriety.
- Consequently, it is infinitely important for Ma'ohi people to recover and re-narrate their pre-contact Ma'ohi past in order to reconnect and rediscover the present and the future. Ma'ohi must reclaim knowledge of the past to negate colonial biases. Ma'ohi writers and independentists attempt this negation through stressing national acknowledgment of a rich ancestral heritage that can help push for and instill a national confidence in Ma'ohi autonomy -- a feature that is in conjunction with Jussawalla's contention that post(-)colonialism includes pride in the native culture ("(Re)reading" 123). Consequently, Ma'ohi independentists do not refer to their ancestral and homelands as 'French Polynesia' (which suggests Polynesia is owned by France), but as Fenua. Such a distinction reflects an important political stance that underlines the Ma'ohi symbolic rupture from French European possession. Furthermore, there are many women involved in the independence struggle and they refer to themselves as militants although they espouse pacifist resistance.
- As the self-professed militant Clariza Lucas maintains:We think that our struggle is legitimate and keep referring ourselves to the definition of the word "independence" originally given by that French State that still confines us in a colonial system: "Independence is the first and only fortune of a people." It is well-known that there are three ways to destroy a people's identity: by fighting against them with weapons, substituting their language, and by changing radically their nutritional habits. France has become a real expert in these three methods. ("The Day of the Waters")In addition to the French uses of weaponry and nuclear testing, their most destructive colonial tactics are subtle, internalized notions of racial inferiority. For instance, implementing French as the islands' official language and forbidding the Ma'ohi to use their own language was part of an institution to create a "new French speaking race" ("The Day of the Waters"). Although the Ma'ohi have re-found their language and reo ma'ohi has been deemed an official language alongside French, racism is rampant, for "each Ma'ohi who only speaks his own language -- and they are becoming more and more -- is completely cut out of everything. Nowadays, this linguistic discrimination is a real problem and still the whole question of the colonialist system is being contested" ("The Day of the Waters").
- In addition, much to the disarray of French language purists, Ma'ohi have manipulated the French language to the point that it is 'Tahitianized,' an element that fortifies Jussawalla's argument that in post(-)colonialism, the colonizer's language is re-created to express the local culture (Links and Letters 31 ). The Ma'ohi case in point is extreme and many Ma'ohi relish in the 'bastardization' of the colonizer's language. They often use French sentences with Ma'ohi syntax, they pronounce phrases in the sing-song intonation of reo ma'ohi, they intersperse Ma'ohi and French words in the same sentences, and they roll their 'r's as in Spanish, instead of the guttural 'r' that is indicative of French. On one hand, the Tahitianization of the French language works as subtle tool of resistance. On the other hand, it works against the Ma'ohi, for it perpetuates racism and perceived French supremacy while hindering Ma'ohi success in French administrative schools and in securing good jobs. Nonetheless, independentist Ma'ohi authors often write in this "pidgin" French and often include a Tahitian/French glossary with their work. Writers like Michou Chaze and Chantal Spitz use Tahitianized language to accentuate French patriarchal domination, with its disregard for the Ma'ohi world view and humanity, and the ramifications of infectious post-European contact on Ma'ohi people and culture. They also emphasize the necessity of knowing the past in order to derive confidence to face the present and future.
- The works I will discuss contain all or most of the elements outlined in Jussawalla's paradigm of post(-)colonialism (Links and Letters 31). Not only do these works nativize the French language, not only do they embody a return to indigenous consciousness, but also they deliberately reject the colonizer's values, including an imposed foreign patriarchal order. Mao'hi literary production is a field dominated by women writers. The most published authors are Michou Chaze, Chantal Spitz, Flora Devatine (who also writes under the pseudonym 'Vaitiare'), and Louise Peltzer. In 1990, Michou Chaze published a collection of short stories entitled Vai: La Riviére au Ciel Sans Nuages, but incredibly, it wasn't until 1991 that Chantal Spitz's L'Île des Rêves Écrasés (Island of Crushed Dreams) was published, becoming the first novel by a Ma'ohi writer to arrive on the French Polynesian literary scene. Prior published Ma'ohi works consisted of poetry written mostly in reo ma'ohi by male poets Henry Hiro and Turo Raapoto and the female poet Vaitiare (Flora Devatine). These poetry publications appeared in the late 1970s and correlate with an Eastern Polynesian cultural renaissance that re-initiated cultural pride and Ma'ohi identity. Subsequently, the 1980s launched an entire campaign to resurrect Ma'ohi culture before it was too late. Writers felt the need for Ma'ohi people to redefine their existence apart from an assimilated French identity. These educated and politically conscious writers became political voices for their silenced Ma'ohi brothers and sisters, and the thematics of their work inevitably reflect social, economic, political, and cultural reform that affect Ma'ohi identity, consciousness, and solidarity. Ma'ohi literature therefore encompasses an important element of post(-)colonialism, which is "an assertion of an indigenous selfhood" (Jussawalla, "Kim, Huck" 125).
- Early poets foresaw Ma'ohiness being totally smothered by French assimilation policies reinforced by a colonial education system. By the late 1970s, the colonial system had almost succeeded in erasing elements of Ma'ohi identity by using Western education to dismantle Ma'ohi indigeneity. As Nicole observes, the poets "were motivated to write by the threat of institutional forgetting, which is sponsored by the educational system of the colonial state that encourages a lack of knowledge about being Ma'ohi, the past, language, and culture" (179). As a result, the purposive reasoning behind creating a Ma'ohi literary culture was to educate the masses and to reverse the cultural damage enforced by the French worldview. In light of Ma'ohi domination by the French, the Ma'ohi writer's goal is a political move to spread Ma'ohi national consciousness in conjunction with Edward Said's claim that with colonized and postcolonial writers, the urgency of recovering geographical territory is preceded by the charting of cultural territory (Said 252). For the Ma'ohi, territorial erasure had begun when British missionaries arrived on Tahiti in 1797 and tried to eradicate what they considered to be inappropriate aspects of Ma'ohi culture. Tahiti became a French Protectorate in 1842, after which colonial domination squelched Ma'ohi identity in an attempt to reconstruct French patriotism and consciousness. Amazingly, it was not until after several generations (ca. 1980) that Ma'ohi commenced their journey to rediscover their cultural identity.
- One of the veteran writers is scholar Flora Aurima-Devatine, who was born in Temoto'i in the district of Tautira on the island of Tahiti. Devatine's literature calls out to the Ma'ohi people to return to the source of their Ma'ohiness, to rediscover their cultural roots, relationships with the land, and to never forget where they came from. She encourages Polynesians to write in order to perpetuate the transmittal of Ma'ohi culture. She advocates that despite an entire history of orality, it is the responsibility of Ma'ohi people to become writers in order to safeguard and enrich Ma'ohi cultural and linguistic heritage. For Devatine, the loss of customs and language will signal the end of Ma'ohi culture, and consequently, the end of a people (Vaitiare 383). Her book, Tergiversations et Rêveries de l'Écriture Orale (Procrastinations and Dreams of Inscribing the Spoken Word) addresses the importance of writing and concretizing thoughts on paper. This work, written in French with reo ma'ohi insertions, is crafted in a poetic style that reflects the spoken word; it is apostmodern adaptation of traditional Ma'ohi storytelling through an extended ode to writing and its importance to the preservation and conservation of indigenous cultures amidst pervasive global change.
- Her audience is the Ma'ohi people, and she urges self-reflection and a self-conscious attempt at expression through writing. She realizes that writing is a western concept, not a traditionally Ma'ohi practice, but implores the Ma'ohi people to embrace and acknowledge writing as a means of self-preservation:W-R-I-T-EThrough encouraging the preservation of words, Devatine encourages the preservation of culture. She highlights the importance of writing in order to know the self, to question the self, to answer the self, and to understand the self in order to make sense of the self and its multiple roles in the surrounding world. All of the pages in this book are dedicated to the importance of writing; whether it be to write for nothing and for all, either to put oneself in front of a keyboard or with a pen at hand. The objective is to play with words and Devatine's message is clear -- Ma'ohi people must take the time to create sentences, words, that in their impression, become immortalized, eternal.
Five letters that don't hesitate to be out in the open
Advancing, alone, chest thrust outward
Tracing, tapping, hammering out the path
And filling the air with their rhythms!
Our life depends on it!
It's our 'job!'
Area of specialization?
It is our freedom!
It is something in our soul!
Let's go children . . . !
Teie mai to mau tamari'I . . .!
Afa'I mai nei I te mau pehepehe
No to taua'ai'a . . .!
Te amo nei ho'I matou
I te hanahana o to tatou fenua . . .!
To discover and describe
Your interior landscapes!
We are ready for all your mischief
We accept all the challenges of your make-believe! (Devatine 61)
- Another powerful intellectual is author, scholar, professor, linguist, and cultural maintainer is Louise Peltzer, born on the Soceity Island of Huahine, who is involved politically in the reinforcement of reo ma'ohi. She has published several works and scholarly articles in French and Ma'ohi on Ma'ohi culture and linguistics. She is the world's foremost authority in the world on Tahitian language and is very active in the Tahitian Academy, which has as its goal to preserve and conserve the ancestral language . In Lettre à Poutaveri (Letter to Pouraveri), Peltzer gives oral authority to one of her ancestors, Rui, a little Ma'ohi girl who tells the history of the impact of white strangers from a Ma'ohi perspective. Through Rui's point of view, Peltzer traces the dramatic effects of European contact on the Ma'ohi people, effects which started on April 6, 1768, with the departure of Louis Antoine de Bougainville (Tahitianized as Poutaveri).
- Although the historical events are recounted with chronological accuracy based on missionary and explorer documentation, this novel importantly subverts western notions of temporality. From the beginning of the narration to the end, despite the fact that more than sixty years (in the western concept of time) of history have evolved, Rui has neither aged, nor grown up. Such time perception demonstrates one of the more cosmological differences between the West and the its Polynesian Other, a difference that highlights a non-linear thinking pervading Ma'ohi culture. This difference is profoundly metaphysical: Rui's role in this novel reinforces the spirit of oral tradition and ancestral memory that would be difficult, if not impossible, to analyze or theorize from a western point of view. The complexity of Lettre à Poutaveri requires a comprehension of, and sensitivity to, the cultural, cosmological, and spiritual elements of insularity and the drastic implications of European contact. If scholars are sincere about recognizing the value of indigenous insular literature, then they must be willing to modify traditional theoretical terms and definitions in order to include indigenous voices that continue to be suppressed and misunderstood.
- Lettre à Poutaveri works simultaneously as an ethnography and as creative historical non-fiction written from an insular perspective. Furthermore, it utilizes a device which I term ancestral realism that gives life to the Ma'ohi voice too often drowned out by tendentious accounts of explorers, navigators, European authors, and British missionary chroniclers. The ancestral realism that dominates and enriches Peltzer's narrative recreates historical events using collective memory passed down from the ancestors. This collective memory employs the notion of a continual memory transmitted through informative, spiritual, and legendary songs, symbolic and interpretive dance movements, and family and community stories. This inheritance of memory reinforces a people's history experienced by preceding generations in a manner that is actual and real. According to Anna-Leena Siikala, "genealogy forms an unbreakable chain which links everybody to the origin, to the divine world of the gods and ancestors. Both the individual and the whole ethnic group have a history which define [sic] all the important factors constituting the identity" (6). Siikala adds that "spatial memory has been created through the intentional activities of many generations" (9). In other words, indigenous temporal concepts irrevocably link ancestrality, inherited memory, and identity.
- To get a clearer idea of the complexity of Peltzer's novel, it is important to read its short opening sequence closely. The brief introduction, the only part of the text written in third person, frames the epistolary narrative comprising the entire body of the novel both by introducing the historical arrival of Louis Antoine de Bougainville and by skitching Rui's observation of his departure:Ten days later, the separation was heartbreaking. Romances had been knotted, promises exchanged, and under a coconut tree, a little girl lamented the departure of her friend. Once back in Europe, Bougainville, alias Poutaveri, let the name of the happy island be known; the island that each man keeps secretly at the bottom of his heart and that allows him to hope: TAHITI. Does the island still exist? What became of his friends? And the little girl over there sobbing on the beach, waiting . . . Give her time . . . The time has come, the tears have dried . . . she is talking . . .  (Peltzer 5)On a surface level, Rui is mourning Bougainville's departure. But Bougainville was only in Tahiti for nine days and did not speak the language; thus it is highly unlikely that he had the means or the time to establish strong bonds with the people. On a deeper, transtemporal level, Rui is therefore not mourning Bougainville's departure per se but rather the implications of what visit represents to the Ma'ohi people and how his presence in Tahiti initiated drastic, permanent changes to Ma'ohi culture, society, and life ways.
- The first page of the novel proper sets in motion the significance of the title, Lettre à Poutaveri. It opens with the epistolary salutation to Bougainville, "My Dear Friend" ["Ami très cher"] (9), suggesting that writing must become an instrument to supercede traditional orality if the Ma'ohi are to reclaim their history and immortalize the present. In Lettre à Poutaver, it is paradoxically the absence of Bougainville, thus the impossibility of the exchange of the spoken word, that initiates the presence of the Ma'ohi the written word. The body of the novel is written from Rui's first-person perspective, yet Rui's letter to Bougainville discloses almost one century of history, a century that irreversibly changed Ma'ohi existence as they knew it prior to European contact. Since Rui is a narrator as well as an active participant in the text, she is in a sense the persevering spirit of oral tradition, the voice of ancestral realism. She is suspended in (or emancipated from) time (hence her agelessness), immortalized on the written page to tell a story of historical importance that had not yet been told, or written, from a Ma'ohi perspective.
- The primary themes in Michou Chaze's collection of vignettes, Vai: la Rivière au Ciel sans Nuages also pertain to the constant quest for a separate indigenous identity under European colonial rule. Chaze's use of language and stream-of-consciousness fashions a unique franco-ma'ohi dialect, poetic in a manner that evokes a return to mythological roots while searching for a past-infused present. These vignettes are dedicated to Ma'ohi identity through instilling an appreciation and respect for nature and culture. Although these themes often evoke nostalgia for the past, Chaze is a realist. She is well aware that the past can never be retrieved: she creates consciousness of the past to elicit a foundation for the present rather than to desire a return to an imagined pre-colonial purity. This book, rich in colors and imagery, presents each vignette as a literary painting to incite Ma'ohi people to observe themselves and to become aware of their Ma'ohiness, their language, their essence of being.
- Nonetheless, this book directly engages with politics through references to a revolt against nuclear testing and the bomb. Chaze attacks colonialism and its patriarchal system as she confronts the invasion of the French military, the installation of nuclear testing sites in the South Pacific, the artificial economy, and all the bureaucratic controlling techniques of the colonizer that oppress and regulate Ma'ohi people. In an interview, Johanna Frogier quotes Chaze as stressing the importance of spreading Ma'ohi consciousness to Ma'ohi youth with simple acts of resistance: "Try to be Polynesian as much as possible! Live in Tahitian houses! Eat Tahitian! Dance Tahitian! Speak Tahitian! Be Tahitian!" (4). Evidently, Chaze's work reinforces the notions of a rupture from the assimilative processes that detract from Ma'ohi pride and consciousness. Furthermore, her writing reflects an appreciation for and a connection to an ancestral past that helps the Ma'ohi make sense of themselves in a world of perpetual change.
- Each of the fourteen vignettes is linked through the power of vai. The word vai has multiple meanings that add complex layers of depth to this work: it is reo ma'ohi for water, river, life, existence, and the verb to be. The first short piece in Vai is entitled "Genealogy" ["Généalogie"], in which a little girl is ignorant of her past and her ancestral heritage and the narrator implores her to seek her cultural roots. Here, Chaze stresses the theme of a quest for Ma'ohi identity. Since oraliture is almost extinct, the little girl ironically must seek knowledge of her roots and Ma'ohi origin stories from books written by Europeans. So assimilated is she that she does not recognize the signs of nature in the sky, in the seas, and on the land. Confused about her identity, she continues to search for herself, her past, her answers; all the while, the tupuna, or ancestors, look sadly down from the branches of a tree. Consequently, the little girl acts as a vehicle for the Ma'ohi search for identity that is a common theme in the stream-of-consciousness memoir that is Vai. In Ma'ohi land, it is increasingly difficult for children to find and maintain answers to cultural roots in a colonized society that has lost its connections to orality. Most historical and cultural information depends on 18th- and 19th-century European male observations and chronicles of a misunderstood and tendentiously perceived society.
- One of the vignettes demonstrating a socio-cultural clash between the past and the present, nature versus man-made artificial constructs, and west versus east, is "The River" ["La Rivière"], in which Chaze juxtaposes two child birthings. One takes place gently in nature alongside the nurturing gurgles of the river. Unfortunately, it is a dream and the mother, awakened by her contractions, is taken to a cold, sterile clinic with harsh lighting and intrusive hospital staff. Along with suggesting a nostalgia for the past, the text suggests the difficulties of French Polynesian modernity; the imaginary wholeness of mother, child, and nature gives way to a harsh interpellation into a colonial symbolic. The abrupt awakening is proof positive that Tahitian reality requires mandatory adaptation to occidental worldviews and practices.
- Another vignette, "The Old Woman" ("La Vieille Dame"), relates the spiritual and ethnic conflicts wrought by colonization, using the time frame of a single afternoon. The following excerpt suggests the alternate definitions of identity that recur throughout the book. Two clean-cut protestant white missionaries show up on the doorstep of the old woman with the intention of proselytizing; they initiate the dialogue, and it is evident the speakers do not understand each other:--We come to speak to you about the source of happiness. Would you like to hear our gospel?Here, a white interlocutor insists on religion as a mode of identification, but the old woman insists upon a Ma'ohi identity. She is born in the Tuamotus and remarks on the western propensity to attribute labels as a means of identification; all the while she is very well aware of who she is and where she comes from. She insists on an insular identity based upon centuries of ma'ohi origin rather the missionary's insistence on an answer that addresses the Euro-Christian dichotomy of identifying as either Protestant or Catholic.
--Would you like a glass of whiskey?
--Do you have a religion?
--What about you?
--Are you Catholic or Protestant?
--I am Paumotu. I hear the Paumotu are Protestants. I grew up in the Marquesas. I hear Marquesians are Catholic. Labels, labels! Catholic! Protestant! Mormon! In the old days, they called us savages; then we became natives, then Kanaks, or maybe it's the other way around. One day, I became Tahitian. It seems that now I'm Polynesian. (Chaze 30) 
- Chaze's use of language in this work often mixes French and reo ma'ohi within the same sentences which reflects an act of passive resistance against the 'Master's' language. Chaze's nativization of the French language "underlines [Chaze's] recognition that Tahiti is a melting pot and that there is no pure language or 'race' through which everything should be done or said. She rejects the essentialist trap of 'race' and offers a reality that is therefore polyvocal, hybrid, and tolerant of difference" (Nicole 191). Chaze's use of language definitely reflects the local color and sing-song use of the vernacular, known locally as kaina. In addition, there are very political elements in this book, as reflected in "Caesura" ("Césure"), which depicts a revolt against nuclear testing and a disdain for scientists -- thus accentuating the idea that the western science underwriting the nuclear presence in French Polynesia is anti-nature, anti-Ma'ohi. In "For You" ("Pour Toi"), Chaze acerbically and openly attacks colonialism and its occidental, patriarchal system.The soul, trapped in a glove bought at a high price, wanted to be freed. It tried to escape this glove thick enough to block the color of music. It tried to get out and slide across the mara'amu up to the reefs, fa'a he'e over the breaking waves to dance in the perfumes of the moto'i. Laying on the sand, I relish in the caresses of the sun on my skin oiled with mono'i. I love the goose bumps that trickle under my hair as the sun drops its kisses on the nape of my neck and down my back. I'm listening to the vivo. To love, to love incessantly, lasciviously, tenderly, crazily; is to be on equal planes with the gods. The glove botched everything up. It rose up and declared that I must pay taxes and licenses, fees and electricity bills, insurance, social security, bills, debts, the restaurant, school cafeteria, the little one's shoes, and the other one's chewing gum and then Cheetos for the third one. I have to pay rent, gasoline, and food. I have to pay for bananas and coconuts that I no longer have the right to pick. I have to buy water to bathe and mono'i to perfume myself, and now I must buy my seductive crown of flowers. I have to pay for the death of my parents in order to keep the land of my ancestors. I have to pay off the Japanese who are trying to buy us out. I have to pay for a European passport so that Belgians and Italians are at home here. I have to pay for war. I have to pay for the bomb to then pay for the hospital and the coffin. I have to pay to go see our gods displayed under glass in museums. (Chaze 79-80) Here, we have an example of the political and economic problems that serve to control the Ma'ohi people. Chaze offers a counterpoint to colonialism that according to Robert Nicole is a "look into the past as another cleansing agent and as a source of strength derived from a sense of belonging to common roots. Chaze is very conscious of her ancestral affiliations but recognizes that these are inescapably enmeshed in the multi-cultural reality of her present" (192). Furthermore, it is apparent that Chaze dedicates the themes of her stories to Ma'ohi identity and an appreciation for nature and culture. She displays an appreciation for and a connection to her ancestral past that helps her make sense of a world of conflicting and constant change.
- The first published Ma'ohi novel, Chantal Spitz's, L'Île des Rêves Écrasés, has as central theme the coming together of the Ma'ohi and the French through a symbolic love relationship. Unfortunately, the two cultures can never fully intersect because they don't understand each other's way of seeing the world. Spitz was born in Tahiti but has left its chaos-related modernization to live and write on a tiny island off the coast of Huahine. She is a dynamic Independentist and anti-nuclear activist, living traditionally where the wind from the sea and the earth sang to her the words that created her first novel (Spitz 190). L'Icirc;le des êves Écrasés takes the reader to a discovery of the Ma'ohi soul as it searches for its identity and culture drowned by the arrival of the Europeans (190). In this novel, Spitz situates the consequences of internalizing the colonizer's ideologies. The novel has a love-story background, the prose text becomes interspersed with poetry in the style of traditional Ma'ohi orality, and the body of the novel is sandwiched in between a prologue and an epilogue. Throughout the work, Spitz analyzes political themes in which she explores the methods of subtle control amidst the chaos that envelopes the islands. With a separate tone and voice from the body of the novel, the prologue and epilogue are intrusive switches of perspective in which the narrator offers platforms for a collective awakening and national Ma'ohi consciousness. She pleads to the Ma'ohi people to take charge, to assume cultural responsibility, and to formulate resistance against total assimilation. The prologue opens with a Ma'ohi goddess who evokes the necessity of a reconnection with a cultural and ancestral past in order to have strength amid colonial chaos13:Here I am looking at you and I no longer know youIn this passage, Spitz situates the effacing of identity that happens once indigenous people internalize the ideologies of the colonizer. She wants Ma'ohi people to be conscious of these methods, especially the efficient and powerful uses of Western education. In her intrusive epilogue, she speaks of school as the redoubtable instrument of colonization and deculturation formulated to set up the Ma'ohi people for failure. The system constructs an indigenous majority of under-educated men and women who become incapable of adapting to modern life. It's a system that sets them up to be laborers that can be exploited and under-paid (Spitz 181). L'Île des Rêves Écrasés takes the reader on a journey to discover the Ma'ohi soul while seeking a Ma'ohi identity and culture drowned out by popa'a [European] capitalist values (190).
They taught you their language, their way to think
They gave you their values, their tastes
They won without deserving
You really helped them
You have become a well-trained monkey
Ma'ohi of today, you are of
Those who no longer know how to think
Those who execute orders
Those who imitate and reject their own identity
Those who kill their soul and sell their land
Those who sell out their own nation
Those who admire the foreigner
And find the neighbor to be better off
Those who buckle under injustice
And fall apart beneath those who despise them
Ma'ohi what have they done to you?
Ma'ohi, what have you done to you? (Spitz 22-23)
- Ma'ohi literary production dispels the myth of Tahiti and the noble savage. In fact, riots in 1991 and 1995 demonstrate that not all Ma'ohi people are complacent under colonial rule. The function of the riots was to demand independence and an end to nuclear testing. Nicole asserts that these riots dramatize "the gulf and disparity that exists between the discursive texts of the earthly paradise inhabited by noble savages, and the reality and extent of discontent and anger " (173) that is externalized by the Ma'ohi at the continued colonizer domination of French Polynesia. Although Ma'ohi people are a physical majority in French Polynesia, most are extremely marginalized, poor, and under-educated. I personally feel the reason Ma'ohi literature is not available outside of Tahiti is not just an economic strategy to perpetuate the myth of paradise; more importantly, it is a political strategy to avoid globalized awareness of and sympathy for the Ma'ohi struggle for independence from colonial rule, and to discourage internal empowerment and consciousness within French Polynesia.
- The fact that for the first time in colonial history, Ma'ohi writers offer a contrapuntal account of the colonial and post-contact experience in literature is a crucial element of post(-)colonial studies. Traditionally, the only accounts about Tahiti were those from a male, European point of view; whether they were explorers, botanists, navigators, sailors, writers, missionaries, or painters. Contemporary Ma'ohi authors try to persuade their audience that although French Polynesia is still very much under colonial rule, there can be a return to indigeneity that resists assimilation and "Frenchifying" the Ma'ohi people. For these reasons, Devatine, Chaze, Peltzer, and others are absolutely correct in their assertion that Ma'ohi people must begin, and continue, to write . . . it is the only way to immortalize the culture, to make the Ma'ohi people known to the world, and to help them in turn realize that they are not alone in their socio-political struggles. Cultural experiences may differ slightly, but the themes of a quest for cultural identity and resistance against the colonizer are more or less universal. It is very important for Ma'ohi to let their stories, their experiences, their hopes, be known to the world outside Polynesia. It is important to eradicate the myths of the childlike, innocent, happy islanders. It is equally important that Polynesian voices be heard by the colonizing voices that have historically tried to mute and suppress them. Ma'ohi voices must become recognized by French and francophone canons, scholars and critics worldwide, and the French literary scene. And finally, the Ma'ohi woman must at last be valued for her intellect. Her silencing and erasure should no longer be perpetuated or tolerated. Historically, the vahine has been misunderstood, exoticized, eroticized, and sexualized since first European contact. As the authors I discuss demonstrate, he time has come to reject the stereotypes of the vahine, to acknowledge her intellectual capabilities, and to permit her a voice, loud and strong.
[The banner illustration is a 1997 postage stamp for French Polynesia, reproducing a mother-of-pearl painting by Camélia Maraea. Entitled "Revival of Our Resources," the artwork consists of 315 nacre pieces and took 616 hours to complete.]
The term 'Ma'ohi' pertains to indigenous residents of the Society islands (Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Bora Bora, Raiatea, Tahaa), the Tuamotus, the Australs, Marquesas, and the Gambiers of Eastern Polynesia. The Ma'ohi comprise the Ma'ohi nation, an area that is exclusive to Eastern Polynesia and colonized by France. It is only in the last twenty-five years that use of the term 'Ma'ohi' puts emphasis on the revival of a collective cultural identity that clearly creates a dichotomy between French colonialists and the indigenous identity of the people of French Polynesia.
Poet Tura Raapoto explains the use of the term 'Ma'ohi' in which "Ohi refers to a sprout which has already taken root, securing itself with a certain autonomy of life, all the while being linked to the mother stem. From a sprout, an ohi, tracing back its roots, one always gets to a trunk. Ma'ohi is the community of all those who claim to be of the same past, culture and language which constitute the common trunk and which still have the same destiny" (quoted in Nicole 183). 'Ma'ohi' therefore establishes a unification of the people and reinforces their cultural and ancestral solidarity. Back
'Tattoo' is derived from the Tahitian word tatau, and tattooing is believed to have originated in French Polynesia, more specifically, Tahiti. Sailors and explorers learned about tattooing in Tahiti and tattooing became a Euro-maritime tradition, taking the new world by storm while ironically being outlawed in Tahiti and French Polynesia by the London Missionary Society after 1797. Back
The famously mythologized dancing Tahitian vahine in a grass skirt was limited to performing in hotels for tourists up until the cultural renaissance of the 1980s. Missionaries had outlawed traditional dancing and music and taboos associated with dancing carried on through French colonial rule. Now Tahitians, along with out-islanders, take great pride in reinforcing their cultural roots through music and dance. Back
There is not a distinct parallel to be drawn between New Zealand colonization of the Maori and the French colonization of the Ma'ohi. In New Zealand, the Maori are an ethnic minority. White colonizers settled, self-immersed, and took over New Zealand as their own country, establishing a New Zealand citizenship and identity. The Ma'ohi case is different. The French have not settled in Polynesia and are a minority. They do not, as a rule, establish themselves permanently; rather they perform administrative duties only: military, education, medical, and governmental. The French administrators who come into Polynesia do so on revolving contracts in which they stay in the territory for a limited time, go back to France, and are replaced by other French nationals. Back
For further reading, see Douglas Oliver's Ancient Tahitian Society. Back
Ma'ohi were a deeply spiritual people in which spiritual purity, or mana, was of utmost importance. Infanticide and human sacrifice are extremely complex issues and were necessary components of the balance of Ma'ohi social order. Ma'ohi society was based on a caste system and one of the reasons for infanticide is that if, for example, a woman from the higher class of spiritual power and purity (arii) fell pregnant from a man from a lower class (manahune), the spiritual power and connection would become contaminated. The infant therefore had to be killed before it could take its first breath. For an extended discussion, see Oliver. Back
Fenua means land, earth; it is used in the context of Ma'ohi nation, homeland of the people. Back
The original French version is in first-person plural feminine, as if to suggest that 'we' are the mothers. Back
É-C-R-I-R-E/ Six lettres qui n'hésitent pas à s'afficher/ Avançant, seules, buste en avant/ Traccedil;ant, frappant, martelant la route/ Et emplissant l'air de leurs rythm es!/ Écrire!/ C'est notre vie!/ C'est notre 'job'/ Spécialité ?/ Condemnation?/ C'est notre libert´ ;!/ C'est quelque chose, dans nos cordes!/ Allons enfants . . . !/ Teie mai nei to mau tamari'i . . . !/ Afa'i mai nei i te mau pehepehe/ No to taua'ai'a . . . ! /Te amo nei ho'i matou/I te hanahana o to tatou fenua . . . !/ Intéressées, impatientes/ De découvrir et de décrire/ Vos paysages intérieurs!/ Nous sommes prêtes à toutes vos frasques!/ Nous acceptons tous les défis de votre imaginaire! [All translations from French and from reo ma'ohi are my own, unless otherwise noted.] Back
Bougainville was not the first European to arrive. Englishman Captain Wallis (1767) preceded him, Put Peltzer chooses to use the departure of Bougainville as a starting point for her creative investigation of post-contact (although certainly not postcolonial) social and psychic change. Back
Through ancestral realism, the ancestors are not 'dead,' for death is largely a western construct of terminality. Rather, the ancestors are very much a comforting, didactic presence. They are not trapped in another dimension but rather co-exist in the physical to help guide and protect. Back
Dix jours plus tard, la séparation fut déchirante, des idylles s'étaient nouées, des promesses échangées, sous un cocotier une petite fille pleurait le départ de son ami . . . De retour en Europe, Bougainville, devenu Poutaveri, fit connaître le nom de l'île heureuse, l'île qui lui permet d'espérer: TAHITI. L'île existe-elle toujours? Ses amis que sont-ils devenues? Et la petite fille lá-bas qui sanglote sur la plage, dans l'attente . . . Laissez-lui du temps . . . Le temps est venu, les larmes ont s´ché..., elle parle. Back
Native of the Tuamotu Archipelago. Back
The people indigenous to French Polynesia are the Ma'ohi people. Since European contact, they have been labeled otherwise. The general term "Tahitian" was applied to all islanders within French Polynesia regardless of island of origin. Back
--Nous venons vous parler du bonheur. Voulez-vous entendre nos paroles?
--Voulez-vous un verre de whiskey?
--Avez-vous une religion?
--étes-vous catholique ou protestante?
--Je suis paumotu.
--Il paraît que les Paumotu sont protestants.
--J'ai grandi aux Marquises.
--Il paraît que les Marquisiens sont catholiques.
--Des noms! Des noms, Catholique! Protestant! Mormon! Autrefois on nous appelait les sauvages; ensuite on est devenus les indigènes, puis des canaques, ou peut-être que c'est l'inverse. Un jour, je suis devenue tahitienne. Il paraît que maintenant je suis polynesienne. Back
traditional nasal flute Back
Ironic reference to the EEC. Back
L'âme, coincée dans ce gant payé au prix fort, voudrait se délivrer. Sortir de ce gant juste assez épais pour empêcher de voir la couleur de la musique. Sortir et glisser sur le mara'amu jusqu'aux récifs, fa'a he'e au-dessus des vagues qui se brisent. Danser dans les parfums de moto'i. Sur le sable, on aime le câlin du soleil sur la peau huilée de mono'i, le frisson qui soulève la chevelure, dépose ses baisers sur la nuque jusqu'à la chute des reins. On écoute le vivo. Aimer, aimer inlassablement, lascivement, tendrement, follement. Être l'égal des dieux. Le gant a tout bousillé. Il s'est levé et a dit il faut que je paie les contributions et ma patente, mes impôts et ma facture d'électricité, les assurances, la C.P.S., mes traites, mes échéances, le resto, la cantine, les chaussures du petit et le chewing-gum de l'autre et encore un Twistie pour le troisième. Il faut que je paie mon loyer, l'essence, la bouffe, la banane et le coco que je ne peux plus cueillir, l'eau pour me laver, le mono'i pour me parfumer, ma couronne pour séduire. Il faut que je paie la mort de mes parents pour garder la terre de mes ancêtres. Il faut que je paie les Japonais qui vont nous acheter. Il faut que je paie un passeport européen pour que les Belges et les Italiens soient chez ici eux. Il faut que je paie la guerre. Il faut que je paie la bombe pour payer ensuite l'hosto et le cercueil. Il faut que je paie pour voir nos dieux sous verre au musée. Back
Voici que je vous regarde et que je ne vous connais pas/ Ils t'ont appris leur langue, leur façon de penser/ Ils t'ont donné leurs valeurs, leurs goûts/ Ils ont gagné sans grand mérite/ Tu les as vraiment bien aidés/ Tu es devenu un singe bien dressé/ Ma'ohi d'aujourd'hui, tu es de/ Ceux qui ne savent plus penser/ Ceux qui exécutent les ordres/ Ceux qui imitent et rejettent leur identité/ Ceux qui suicident leur âme et vendent leur Terre/ Ceux qui bradent leur patrie/ Ceux qui admirent l'étranger/ Et trouvent meilleur le voisin/ Ceux qui se courbent devant l'injuste/ Et se cassent devant qui les méprise/ Ma'ohi qu'a-t-on fait de toi?/ Ma'ohi qu'as-tu fait de toi? Back
- Chaze, Michou. Vai: la Rivière au Ciel sans Nuages. Papeete: Cobalt/Tupuna, 1990.
- Devatine, Flora. Tergiversations et Rêveries de l'Écriture Orale. Papeete: Au Vent des Íles, 1998.
- Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. Trans. Charles Lam Markman. New York: Grove Press, 1965.
- Frogier, Johanna. "Le Portrait d'une Muse de Tahiti : Michou Chaze -- Retour vers la Culture par l'Écriture." 19 octobre 2000. www.lehman.cuny.edu/ile.en.ile
- Jussawalla, Feroza. "Kim, Huck, and Naipaul: Using the Postcolonial Bildungsroman to (Re)define Postcoloniality." Links & Letters 4 (1997): 25-38.
- --- . "(Re)reading Kim: Defining Kipling's Masterpiece as Postcolonial." Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies 5.2 (1998): 112-127.
- Lockwood,Victoria S. Tahitian Transformation: Gender and Capitalist Development in a Rural Society. Lynne Rienner: Boulder, 1993.
- Lucas, Clarize. "The Day of the Waters." Poison Fire, Sacred Earth: Testimonies, Lectures, Conclusions. The World Uranium Hearing, Salzburg. September 17, 1992. http://www.ratical.com/radiation/WorldUraniumHearing/index.html
- Mishra, Vijay and Hodge, Bob. "What is Post(-)Colonialism?" Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory. Eds. Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994. 276-290.
- Nicole, Robert. The Word, the Pen, and the Pistol: Literature and Power in Tahiti. SUNY: New York, 2000.
- Oliver, Douglas. Ancient Tahitian Society. 3 vols. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1974.
- Peltzer, Louise. Lettre à Poutaveri. Papeete: Au Vent des Îles, 1995.
- Sahlins, Marshall. "Goodbye to Tristes Tropiques: Ethnography in the Context of Modern World History" (1993). Culture in Practice: Selected Essays. New York: Zone, 2000. 471-500
- Said, Edward. Culture and Imperialism. London: Vintage, 1993.
- Siikala, Anna-Leena. "Spatial Memory and Narration: Oral History and Traces of the Past in a Polynesian Landscape." Suomen Antropologi/Antropologi i Finland (SAnt), Helsinki, Finland, 23.2 (1998): 4-19.
- Slemon, Stephen. "Modernism's Last Post." In Past the Last Post. Eds. Ian Adam and Helen Tiffin. Harvester Wheatsheaf: Hemel Hempstead, 1991. 3-27.
- Spitz, Chantal T. L'Île des Rêves Écrasés. Papeete: Les Éditions de la Plage, 1991.
- Vaitiare. Humeurs. Papeete: Polytram, 1980.
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