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Changing Contexts, Shifting MeaningsTransformations of Cultural Traditions in Oceania$
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Elfriede Hermann

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833664

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833664.001.0001

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Justice in Wallis-‘Uvea

Justice in Wallis-‘Uvea

Customary Rights and Republican Law in a French Overseas Territory

(p.250) Justice in Wallis-‘Uvea
Changing Contexts, Shifting Meanings

Françoise Douaire-Marsaudon

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter focuses on several “affairs” that occurred in the Polynesian island of Wallis-'Uvea—part of the French Overseas Territory of Wallis-and-Futuna—between 2001 and the present. These affairs illustrate the difficulties arising from the interaction between two different legal systems: the local system, considered “customary” by Wallisians, and the French system, referred to as “Les lois de la République.” The chapter considers the recurrence of the term “justice” in Wallisian discourse, taking as an example the Kalomaka case, one of the affairs that has caused trouble on Wallis. The case shows how the traditional system, which—prior to the arrival of Westerners—ensured that the law was respected, punished lawbreakers, and regulated conflicts, was gradually transformed by the growing implication of Wallisian society in the modern world. This process, which began with the introduction of a code of laws based on the Western model brought from outside, was followed by the coexistence and later confrontation of two different, even contradictory, ways of making and administering law. It is argued that beyond the confrontation of the two judicial systems, there is a truly “societal choice” made by the population concerned, and that the notion of “justice” now widely used by Wallisians is the consequence of it, being an encompassing value that is able to overcome the fragmentation of their sociopolitical life.

Keywords:   cultural transformation, Wallis-'Uvea, justice, sociopolitical life, lawmaking, legal system, Kalomaka case, Wallisian society

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