Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


French Studies

Document Type



French Polynesia and New Caledonia are facing an identity crisis in which the lack of recognition of otherness represents a serious risk to the sociopolitical cohesion of these fragile multiethnic and multicultural societies. In order to avoid self-destructive conflicts and to build harmony in the midst of ethnic diversity, an endogenous inclusive redefinition of cultural identities has become necessary. Within this context, this research had a double objective. First, it aimed to ascertain how this quest for recognition of the Other is represented in the emerging literature of French speaking Oceania. Secondly, its purpose was to understand the social and political functions played by the writers of our corpus. In Tahiti: Henri Hiro, Chantal Spitz, Louise Pelzer, Ari’irau, Marie-Claude Teissier-Landgraf, Celestine Hitiura Vaite, Jimmy Ly, and B.D Gotz. In New Caledonia: Déwé Gorodé, Nicolas Kurtovitch, and José-Louis Barbançon. In Tahiti and in New Caledonia, the emergence of the self-represented Other, which breaks the mold of stereotypes produced by colonial works and pleads for recognition, constitutes one of the main themes of the literary production by the present generation of authors. These writers perform several key social functions. First, by validating their own culture, which until then had been misrepresented, denigrated, or even denied, they rebuild their self-esteem- the first step towards recognition. Secondly, by transmuting their sufferings into written language, they contribute to a collective healing process. Moreover, most of them challenge the construction of identity founded on the myth of ethno-cultural homogeneity. Indeed, through their work, these writers implicitly promote cultural cross-hybridization or métissage culturel and in so doing, become the architects of bridges between ethnic groups. Of equal importance, in the process of recognition of otherness, women, who comprise a large proportion of the authorship, especially in French Polynesia, have contributed a gender sensitive perspective. This dimension enriches the literature by giving voice, and therefore some recognition, to the other half of the population. In the imaginative function that they are fulfilling, francophone writers are formulating the project of an inclusive society in which the ideal of recognition of otherness transcends the borders of ethnicity and gender.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Stone, Greg