“The Tribe in the City" : Kanak people and the issue of post-colonial urban planning in Noumea (New Caledonia) (12876)
Gilles PESTANA, (PhD), Senior Lecturer in Geography – University of New Caledonia – CNEP
Olivier HOFFER, (PhD), Associate Lecturer in Geography – University of New Caledonia – CNEP
In Noumea, from September to November 2012, an unprecedented and publicized event called “The Tribe in the City” highlighted the issue of the status and consideration of kanak people in the urban area.
“The tribe in the City” refers to both a collective and an action which resulted in the occupation of a public square in downtown, by the building of traditional huts. This self-governed “Tribe” was liven up by artists, young people and kanak “mamas”, who were greeting the public including many Australian cruise visitors.
Initially permitted by the municipality for one week to celebrate the Citizenship Day on 24th September, this occupation lasted outside any legal framework and turned into a protest event that claimed the recognition of kanak identity in the City. Although it generated debates and political tensions, this episode has been a large popular and touristic success. Given the refusal of the members of the collective to leave the public square, the municipality proceeded to the destruction of the huts in early November.
In many ways, this experience questions the place of Kanak and Oceanian identity in Noumea and its urban planning. Due to the demographic growth of kanak people and the social advancement of many of them, nickname “ White Noumea” now seems outdated. This new deal involves to conceive no longer the City under colonial tradition or under European imported concepts and planning instruments.
Noumea promotes a “sustainable city” project, but how is it possible to reach sustainability without any reflection nor real innovations in planning and urban design with regard to local and indigenous people ?
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