Kanaks are the indigenous Melanesian population in New Caledonia. This article explores the experiences unique to Kanak women after colonisation, including the impact of French colonial laws and policies on gender relations in the indigenous community. Kanak women have assumed largely concealed roles in the colonial period. Little literature deals specifically with the impact of French colonisation on Kanak women, possibly reflecting the dominant colonial tendency to discount the historical, cultural, socio-economic and political significance of Kanak women in the colonial era. The French colonisers fortified their control by sharpening and maintaining hierarchical differences based on race, class, gender, sexuality and space between the indigenous peoples and the colonisers. The emphasis on discrete boundaries was reinforced by repressive colonial laws, such as the indigenat, an emblem of colonial control exemplifying collusion between an indigenous patriarchy and the colonial administrators.
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