Eroding the Native Space: The Perceptual Layers of Papeete Harbor

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As the flag of Queen Pomare IV made its slow descent towards the bottom of the pole in 1843, overcast started to envelope the rule of the Kingdom of Tahiti, as it became a French protectorate. This action initiated a bloody war (1844-1847) that claimed sizeable amounts of Tahitian and French troops and almost started an additional war between France and Britain in the Pacific due to British interests in the Polynesian archipelago. At the end of the bloodshed, Tahitian monarchy was allowed to remain independent in the midst of French administration from 1847 to 1879. In 1800, Papeete was only a small establishment on the north east coast of the Island of Tahiti. Already "a very lively port" at that time, the harbor grew to an estimated 1,500 inhabitants of 1838, and in 1842, Tahiti was declared a French protectorate, and Papeete became official capital . In 1880, the Queen Pomare IV’s son and successor, Pomare V, gave his land to France. The Protectorate was given the name of Etablissements français d'Oceanie (EFO), which would become known as French Polynesia . In order to comprehend the history behind the development Papeete Harbor, one must understand how the native inhabitants viewed this ‘space’. In the historical representation of the transformation of the Tahitian monarchy to the colony French Polynesia, it is easy to analyze the modern city of Papeete as an invention of French colonialism due to its strategic location on the coast of Tahiti. However, what is not represented is the relationship that the natives of Tahiti have to the land as an element of space and how the French changed this relationship through the development of Papeete Harbor. The French philosopher Michel Foucault recognized the importance of sp... ... middle of paper ... ...son of the analysis of the Papeete Harbor Nautical Chart was the different layers that the chart represented to 1) the primary user 2) the power holder and 3) the native population. The initial layer was composed of the development of the Papeete nautical chart from initial French surveying and the corrections by the United States Department of Defense represents at its surface an important tool for U.S. mariners to navigate to Papeete Harbor. Under the initial surface, the chart depicts a foundation of modern Papeete Harbor enabled by French colonization for the specific purpose of becoming the strategic harbor city of the South Pacific built in the French image. The last surface depicts the viewpoint of the native population, which reflects the decreasing influence of native Tahitians and their way of life as the French developed Papeete into what it is today .

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