Rahui and local organizations in Polynesia
(P43)
Location D
Date and Time 8th December, 2008 at 13:30

Convenors

Christian Ghasarian (Université de Neuchâtel) christian.ghasarian@unine.ch
Tamatoa Bambridge (CNRS) tamatoa@univ-paris1.fr
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Short Abstract

This panel analyses ancestral cultural concepts and current practices related to the land and the sea and its usage and appropriation in Polynesia. It will address local continuities and changes, through the institution of the rahui, the community’s decision to limit the use of natural resources such as fishing in some defined coastal spaces around the Islands.

Long Abstract

This panel analyses ancestral cultural concepts and current practices related to the usage and appropriation of the land and the sea in Polynesia. It particularly focuses on the institution of the rahui, a formal and sacred community prohibition placed on resources in some specific coastal area of the Islands. This consensual decision allows people to manage their food resources carefully, by allowing the marine fauna in especially designated areas to develop without human predation during a defined period.

The historical perspectives consider the importance of the rahui in pre-European Polynesia, stating its relationship to cultural notions of mana, hierarchy and group orientation in social organization.

The contemporary perspectives, based on anthropological fieldwork, address how local communities in Polynesia manage the ancestral custom of the rahui in a different social context. In remote and more or less autonomous communities, such as Rapa or Moorea in French Polynesia , the inhabitants, neglecting the official French laws and sometimes acting in contradiction to them, may organize their economic life and appropriation of natural sea resources in a way that takes into account their possible limits. This requires the definition of rules and moralities. Self-imposed in a sacred manner, with ceremonial public prayers, these rules require each individual to be fully responsible for their respect of what is defined as a common good. Every fishing activity in the rahui outside its official and temporary openings exposes the infractor to both social reprobation and supernatural sanction; two reasons strong enough to invite people to comply with the prohibition.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Rahui in oriental polynesia, an ethno historic perspective

Author: Tamatoa Bambridge (CNRS) tamatoa@univ-paris1.fr

Short Abstract

Le rahui polynésien est aujourd'hui devenu une notion à la mode dans les milieux environnementalistes dans le Pacifique. Les institutions internationales s'en sont également saisi le considérant comme un principe de gouvernance et de gestion des ressources naturelles.

Abstract

Rahui en Polynésie orientale, une perspective historique

Le rahui polynésien est aujourd'hui devenu une notion à la mode dans les milieux environnementalistes dans le Pacifique. Les institutions internationales s'en sont également saisi le considérant comme un principe de gouvernance et de gestion des ressources naturelles.

Pourtant, une analyse historique montre que le rahui tel qu'on peut l'appréhender à partir de l'analyse des documents des premiers observateurs et missionnaires au XVIIIème siècle, est très différent de celui qui sera retenu sous la période missionnaire puis à l'époque coloniale dans les établissements française de l'océanie (EFO), devenu aujourd'hui la Polynésie française.

Ce travail propose donc d'analyser d'un point de vue ethno historique l'évolution du concept de rahui, du XVIIIème siècle à nos jours, en Polynésie orientale.

Plan de gestion des espaces maritimes et rahui à Teahupoo (Tahiti)

Author: Magali Verducci heremoanac@mail.pf

Short Abstract

Analyse des raisons qui poussent les pêcheurs de la commune de Teahupoo à rejeter ou être réticent à la mise en place d'un plan de gestion des espaces maritimes, interrogation sur les préférences vis à vis de ce qu'ils qualifient de rahui.

Abstract

Afin de préserver la biodiversité et de permettre une exploitation durable des ressources marines, la Polynésie française s'est dotée d'outils réglementaires « modernes », comme le Plan de Gestion des Espaces Maritimes (P.G.E.M.). Cet outil de gestion participative semble en théorie parfaitement adapté aux lagons de Polynésie française. Or, le P.G.E.M. se heurte à de nombreux obstacles et se révèle en réalité très difficile à mettre en place. Au niveau de la commune de Teahupoo, une part non négligeable des pêcheurs semble être défavorable à la mise en place d'aires marines protégées et/ou de P.G.E.M., qu'ils associent notamment à la privation d'un espace. En revanche, bon nombre d'entre eux serait favorable au rahui, qui constitue un concept de gestion traditionnelle auquel ils semblent adhérer, et parfois même par principe : certains d'entre eux, qui y semblent favorables, peinent à le définir. Notre intervention propose donc d'analyser les raisons qui poussent les pêcheurs de la commune de Teahupoo à rejeter ou à être réticent à la mise en place d'un P.G.E.M., et s'interroge sur ce qui les pousse à préférer les mesures qu'ils qualifient de rahui. Nous préciserons notamment en quoi, dans la catégorie des acteurs, le rahui pourrait être une forme de P.G.E.M. et en quoi celui-ci s'en distingue nettement.

Evolution and institutional re-appropriation of the rahui on the atoll of Fakarava in the Tuamotu Arpchipelago: From a traditional management to moderns' models

Author: Lorin Thorax (Université de Neuchâtel) lorin.thorax@unine.ch

Short Abstract

The paper I intend to present will address the evolution of the rahui on the atoll of Fakarava in the Tuamotu Archipelago (French Polynesia). I will show how the concepts and the practices of the rahui are, on this atoll like any others, related to the specificity of the topography and the environment of the world in which the population lives.

Abstract

The paper I intend to present will address the evolution of the rahui on the atoll of Fakarava in the Tuamotu Archipelago (French Polynesia). On the basis of a fieldwork I completed in Fakarava during four months to realize my finalpaper for the Ethnology Institut of the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland), I will show how the concepts and the practices of the rahui are, on this atoll like any others, related to the specificity of the topography and the environment of the world in which the population lives. Therefore, the way natural resources are dealt with relates to models of exploitation entirely associated to the environmental particularities. If the local rahui was above all a sea matter and had important sacred dimension before the coming of Europeans and the implementation of coconuts grove for coprah, it slowly became dependant of the land element before to be abandoned for a sedentary life imposed by the colonial constraints. Currently a new tool used by governmental institutions in order to sensibilize the populations to the preservation of the ecosystem, the rahui also regulates the access to natural wealth. I can be specific, spatial or temporary but not "sacred" anymore. This modern re-appropriation works as a system of regulation at the level of the country. Yet this new form and conception of the rahui forgets the ecological, social and traditional specificities, in brief, the local specificities of the population living of the exploitation of their natural resources.

Protection of Natural Resources through a Sacred Prohibition: The Rahui in Rapa

Author: Christian Ghasarian (Université de Neuchâtel) christian.ghasarian@unine.ch

Short Abstract

This paper addresses why and how the Insulars of Rapa in the Australes archipelago (French Polynesia) have decided to edict a rahui on fishing in some defined coastal spaces around the Island. It analyses this institution in terms of sacralisation, community logics and individual morality.

Abstract

This paper addresses why and how the Insulars of Rapa in the Australes archipelago (French Polynesia) have decided to edict a rahui on fishing in some defined coastal spaces around the Island. It first replaces this current institution in relation to sacred conceptions and a general concern on keeping natural resources available to ensure the community's food supply and therefore its survival. Then, it explores the way this consensual self-imposed prohibition is managed by the community in the current practices. Anthropological fieldwork and data allow to enter into the logics and organizations around this protection of the marine fauna everyday of the year except one when, during eight hours (and no more), the sacred prohibition is raised and the fishermen can catch as many fish they want in the previously forbidden areas. The paper finally addresses how the created rules around the rahui imply and is sustained by a morality that implicates each individual who is socialized to consider that any infractions to this prohibition can expose him/her to both social reprobation and structural sanctions.