The Kite is Tied to You’: Custom, Christianity, and Organization Among Kanak Women of Drueulu, Lifou, New Caledonia

AUTHOR(S)
Anna Paini
Culture

This paper explores Drueulu women’s engagement in an organized collectivity during the late 1980s and early I99Os. I focus particularly on the Drueulu Women’s Group, a group affiliated to the umbrella Catholic organization, mouvement feminin vers un Souriant Village Melanesien (mfSVM), to illustrate how these women mobilized cultural elements, including customary bonds, religious affiliation, and maternal relations, to assert their agency and empowerment. To move beyond a given and unchanging representation of Lifouan men and women means bringing to the fore multiple changing identities which are negotiated in different times and places. This does not mean privileging localism over national commonalities. By examining a 1990 protest march against alcohol abuse by men, I attest to the various articulations of women’s concerns, customary linkages, and denominational affiliation which informed women’s agenda at the village level. I then consider how these configurations were articulated in the 1992 annual general assembly of the mfSVM when 200 women gathered in Drueulu from all over the country for the twentieth anniversary of the movement. In the wider social settings here examined, the ubiquitous metaphorical use of maternal tropes gained strategic efficacy.

Research Type(s)
Journal Article
Submitted by Toksave
March 23, 2021
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