the contemporary pacific · spring 2000 Resource Centre in Suva, Fiji, says in his preface that After Moruroa is an update (and translation) of La France dans la Pacifique: De Bougainville à Moruroa, which he published in 1992 with Chesneaux, an emeritus historian at the Sorbonne. The opening chapters stress the links between French colonialism and nuclear testing, though Paris thinks of its Pacific territories as benevolently subsidized and "autonomous." Like Robert Aldrich and others, the authors regard World War II as a turning point in the French Pacific, because Paris wanted to regain its tarnished status, after humiliating defeat and Nazi occupation: it would grant greater self-government to its territories, in order to retain them and thus secure for itself the desired role of a middle-sized power with nuclear weapons and a globe-spanning presence. The book traces French mythology about the Pacific from Bougainville's "paradise," through Gauguin and even Jules Verne and the surrealists, to a "grand design" based on "the facade of autonomy" (77). As late as 1986, France described mineral-rich New Caledonia as "an immense aircraft carrier" (80) to defend the region, while the Centre d'Expérimentation absorbed the largest French budgetary expenditure in the Pacific.
The Contemporary Pacific – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Feb 1, 2000