New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea: Large-scale Mines and Local-level Politics – by Catherine Putz (The Diplomat – November 29, 2017)

New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea are not always mentioned together. Despite geographic proximity, colonial history has cast them into two different scholarly camps.

Split between Anglophone and Francophone researchers, the similarities between the two — namely their mutual economic dependence on mineral resource exports and the impact of large-scale mining on indigenous communities and local politics — have not been fully explored. A new volume from ANU Press, Large-scale Mines and Local-level Politics: Between New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea, seeks to bridge this gap.

The volume’s editors, Colin Filer and Pierre-Yves Le Meur, spoke to The Diplomat about the impacts of large-scale mining on local-level politics in New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea.

New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea are geographically close, what other similarities are there between the two states?

Both countries belong to that part of the Pacific Islands region that was called Melanesia (“Black Islands”) by the French navigator Dumont d’Urville because of the dark skin color of the indigenous inhabitants.

This superficial racial similarity conceals a huge range of linguistic and cultural diversity, so if the different islands of this region are equally diverse in terms of their indigenous languages and cultures, they are also quite different from each other for this same reason.

Likewise, all were subject to European invasion and colonial administration in the late 19th century, but the extent and duration of European settlement (and indigenous dispossession) varied between them.

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