France in the South Pacific in the Early Twentieth Century

  • Robert Aldrich


The first half of the twentieth century brought significant changes to the French colonies in the South Pacific. International crises such as the two world wars and the depression did not spare the islands of Oceania, and new patterns of trade and economic development increasingly tied the French possessions into the global economy. A programme of mise en valeur aimed at the improvement of the colonies’ infrastructure and pointed to greater efforts to make them profitable, and the importation of foreign workers represented an attempt to solve the lingering problem of labour. Another problem, the ambiguous status of the New Hebrides, festered during the entire period but did not find a resolution. Within each of the colonies, political and economic developments changed the structures set in place in the nineteenth century; the growth of a settler population and the maturation of a European society in Oceania, paradoxically, both strengthened and loosened the bonds between the colonies and the ‘mother country’.


Foreign Affair Steamship Line Custom Duty Panama Canal French Coloni 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Jacques Marseille, L’Age d’or de la France coloniale (Paris, 1987).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Chris Coulthard-Clark, ‘Australia’s Monroe Doctrine: An Attempt to Keep the Islands English’, Pacific Islands Monthly, December 1986, pp. 40–42.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Jean-Marie Dallet, Bengt Danielsson and Philippe Mazellier, Le Mémorial polynésien, Vol. V, 1914–39 (Papette, 1977).Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    Robin de Morhéry, La Maîtrise du Pacifique et le Péril jaune (Rouen, 1930), pp. 34, 25.Google Scholar
  5. 20.
    Albert Sarraut, La Mise en valeur des colonies françaises (Paris, 1924).Google Scholar
  6. 24.
    On the mise en valeur of New Calédonie, see also Emile Arène, La Mise en valeur de la Nouvelle-Calédonie (Paris, 1927) and P.M. Cousot, L’Oeuvre calédonienne du Gouverneur Guyon (Paris, n.d.).Google Scholar
  7. 25.
    On developments at the beginning of the century, see Pierre-Yves Toullan, ‘La Mise en valeur des EFO de 1870 à 1914’, BSEO 18 (1981), pp. 885–914. Google Scholar
  8. 29.
    Bernard Brou, ‘Un Siècle de crises et de “booms”: les hauts et les bas de l’économie calédonienne’, BSEHNC 40 (1979), pp. 33–49.Google Scholar
  9. 33.
    Wilfred G. Burchett, Pacific Treasure Island (Melbourne, 1941), pp. 52–8.Google Scholar
  10. 43.
    Muriel F. Lloyd Prichard, An Economic History of New Zealand to 1939 (Auckland, 1970), p. 168.Google Scholar
  11. 61.
    Adolphe Brunet, Le Régime international des Nouvelles-Hébrides (Paris, 1907).Google Scholar
  12. 62.
    Philippe Grignon-Dumoulin, Le Condominium des Nouvelles-Hébrides (Paris, 1928), p. 51 note.Google Scholar
  13. 89.
    Gérald Coppenrath, ‘Evolution politique de la Polynésie française depuis la Première Guerre Mondiale’, JSO 15 (1959), pp. 237–65; Dallet, Danielsson and Mazellier, Le Mémorial polynésien.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Robert Aldrich 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Aldrich
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SydneyAustralia

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