Serge TCHERKEZOFF

 

Serge Tcherkézoff

English Version, click here

Statut: Directeur d'Etudes

Institution: EHESS

Contact: serge@pacific-credo.fr

Tel portable: (+33) (0)6 86 24 09 28

CREDO
Maison Asie Pacifique
Université d'Aix-Marseille
3, place Victor Hugo
13003 Marseille - FRANCE

tel : 33(0)4 13 55 07 32

Domaines de Recherche

POLYNESIE (anthropologie, ethnohistoire)

Déconstruction historique de la vision européenne de l'espace "Pacifique", "Océanie", et de ses subdivisions ("Mélanésie", "Polynésie"...)

Révision des récits occidentaux sur les premières rencontres avec les Polynésiens

Histoire des théories holistes en anthropologie sociale

Cursus

Thèse / Ph. D., EHESS, 1981 sur certaines royautés sacrées africaines (Afrique orientale)

Membre de l'EHESS depuis 1979

Adjunct Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury, depuis 2002

2004-2006: ARC International Fellow, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Gender Relations Centre, Australian National University


Enquêtes

Samoa (Polynésie occidentale): depuis 1981

 

 

Serge Tcherkézoff

 

Plus de détails:

 

--> Né : 13 Octobre 1948, Paris, nationalité française, marié, 2 enfants.

 

ST est Directeur d’études à l’EHESS. Avec Pierre Lemonier, il est à l’origine de la création, en 1995, du CREDO (UMR 6574) par le CNRS et l’EHESS (auxquels s’est joint en 1999 l’Université de Provence, à l’occasion de la création de l’UMS Maison Asie-Pacifique) : Centre de recherches et de documentation sur l’Océanie, qu’il a dirigé de 1999 à 2007

http://www.ehess.fr/fr/recherche/centres/division-aires-culturelles/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centre_de_Recherche_et_de_Documentation_sur_l'Océanie

ST enseigne à l’EHESS depuis 1980. Il a été membre du Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale (EHESS/ Collège de France) avant d’établir, à partir de 1993, une partie de ses enseignements à l’EHESS - pôle de Marseille, en vue de la création d’un Centre sur l’Océanie.

Ses travaux rassemblent les résultats de ses enquêtes de terrain en Polynésie occidentale durant les années 1981–1996 (archipel des SAMOA) et une critique ethno-historique des récits européens (16e-20e siècles) concernant l’Océanie en général et surtout la Polynésie (Tahiti, Hawaii, Tonga, Samoa…).

Parmi ses ouvrages:

Deux livres concernent la société contemporaine de Samoa dans les domaines de l’économie, de la politique et des relations de sexe-genre :

FaaSamoa, une identité polynésienne (économie, politique, sexualité), Paris, L’Harmattan, 2003

Le mythe de la sexualité polynésienne, Paris, PUF, 2001.

Il a co-dirigé un livre sur les transformations contemporaines dans le Pacifique :

—Le Pacifique-sud aujourd’hui, Paris, Presses du CNRS, 1997 (traduit : The Changing South Pacific, ANU, Canberra 2005, republié en 2009 par ANU E Press :

http://epress.anu.edu.au/changing_south_pacific_citation.html

Trois autres livres reprennent sur une nouvelle base le dossier des « premiers contacts » entre peuples du Pacifique et Européens :

Tahiti 1768, jeunes filles en pleurs : la face cachée des premiers contacts, Papeete, Au Vent des Iles, 2004 (épuisé, en cours de réédition).

First Contacts : the Samoan Case : European Misunderstandings about divinity and sexuality, Christchurch et Canberra, ANU et U of Canterbury, 2004, republié en 2008 par ANU E press :

http://epress.anu.edu.au/first_contacts_citation.html

(avec M. Jolly et D. Tryon, de l’ANU) Oceanic Encounters: Exchange, Desire, Violence. Canberra, ANU E Press, 2009 :

http://epress.anu.edu.au/oceanic_encounters_citation.html

Un ouvrage paru en 2008 présente l’histoire méconnue des classifications raciales émanant des sociétés savantes européennes qui ont fabriqué de toutes pièces la partition géographique-culturelle de l’Océanie (Micronésie/Mélanésie/Polynésie) qu’on retrouve sur les cartes actuelles de l’Océanie :

Polynésie/Mélanésie : l’invention française des ‘races’ et des régions de l’Océanie, Papeete, Au Vent des Iles :

http://www.tahitipresse.pf/2009/03/sciences-sociales-serge-tcherkzoff-plaide-pour-un-mariage-de-la-franconsie-et-de-langlonsie/

http://www.lesnouvelles.pf/le-temps-de-vivre/1578-serge-tcherkezoff.html


Au plan international :

ST a été plusieurs fois Guest Professor des Universités d’Auckland, de Canterbury et de l’Australian National University, depuis le milieu des années 1990.

Il a coordonné avec Prof. Karen Nero de University of Canterbury le programme international des Comparative Pacific Studies qui incluait les Universités de Polynésie française et de Nouvelle Calédonie ; il a coordonné avec les Prof Darrell Tryon et Margaret Jolly de l’Australian National University un programme « Oceanic Encounters » (un ouvrage publié récemment).

Il a représenté le CNRS (2004) et dirigé la session de sciences sociales (2006, 2009) aux trois Assises successives de la recherche française dans le Pacifique réunies à Papeete.

Il est Adjunct Professor of Pacific Studies à Canterbury University, Nouvelle-Zélande et à l’Australian National University et a été récemment lauréat du Australian Research Council pour un International Linkage Fellowship.

Il coordonne avec Prof. Anne Salmond de University of Auckland un programme franco-néo-zélandais sur les sources concernant les « premiers contacts » . Il est consultant auprès de l’University of Canterbury (NZ) pour la réorganisation des Pacific Studies.

Il est engagé dans plusieurs opérations, soutenues par le Fonds d’action économique et sociale pour le Pacifique, du MAEE, qui visent à rapprocher les recherches produites par les Collectivités françaises du Pacifique et leurs voisins anglophones de la même région.

Il préside le réseau Agora-SHS en Nouvelle-Calédonie et a organisé les colloques Agora-1 (qui a donné lieu à la publication du Livre Blanc de la recherche en Nelle-Calédonie) et Agora-2.

http://agora.univ-nc.nc


serge@pacific-credo.fr

Telephone France: (from overseas: +33 and delete 0):

06 86 24 09 28

04 42 72 08 19

04 42 72 05 42




Serge TCHERKEZOFF (English Version)

Professor of anthropology (Directeur d'Etudes)

Institution: EHESS Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Institute of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences, Ministry of Research and Education, Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Marseille)

Contact: serge@pacific-credo.fr

Mobile: (+33) (0)6 86 24 09 28

CREDO
Maison Asie Pacifique
Université de Provence
3, place Victor Hugo
13003 Marseille - FRANCE

land line : 33(0)4 13 55 07 32

See also Publications, Programs and Conferences and Articles to download

Research

POLYNESIA (anthropology, ethnohistoy)

Historical critique of European visions applied to the Pacific, Oceania... and to their subdivisions ("Melanesia", "Polynesia"...).

Reconsideration of European narratives on first and early encounters with Polynesians: when Polynesians discovered the Papalagi, Popaa, Haole, Pakeha...

History of holist theories in French social anthropology

Cursus

Thèse / Ph. D., EHESS, 1981 on some African sacred kingship precolonial systems (Nyamwezi-Sukuma)

Member of EHESS since 1979

Adjunct Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury, since 2002

2004-2006: ARC International Fellow, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Gender Relations Centre, Australian National University


Fieldwork

Samoa (Polynésie occidentale): since 1981

 

Scientific Leadership Profile

Serge Tcherkezoff is a researcher in Pacific anthropology and ethno-history. In addition of being the principal specialist of Samoan society in Europe, he is one of the two specialists in Europe, of ethno-historical approaches to the encounters between Polynesians and Europeans in the 18th century.

When he founded with other colleagues, in the early 1990s, at a national level, the Centre of Research and Documentation for Oceania (CREDO), the first permanent centre of research devoted to Pacific studies in France (as a joint program between CNRS and Universities), he deliberately sought to develop research focused on English-speaking areas of the Pacific, thus breaking with a long tradition in France that limited the study of the Pacific to former or current French territories. As founder of Samoan studies in France, he has helped to integrate colleagues working in Tonga and Rotuma into the French research system, thus establishing for the first time a school of Western Polynesian studies in France.

These endeavours have led to the publication by Tcherkezoff of three books entirely or partly focussing on the Samoan society:

—in 2001 a complete reanalysis of the so-called “Margaret Mead / Derek Freeman debate” about adolescence and education in Samoa, and about cultural versus biological determinism;

—in 2003 a five hundred pages book about the contemporary transformations of Samoan society in the 1980s and 1990s, focused principally on economics, politics and gender relations;

—in 2004 an ethno-historical study of first and early encounters between Samoans and Europeans. The book has been reprinted by ANU E-Press in 2008.

It has also led to an edited book focused on social and cultural change in the Pacific, published under his editorship by CNRS in 1997, where, for the first time in France, several chapters dealt with Tonga and Samoa, while others considered PNG, Australia and other cases. The book has been translated into English and published in 2005 by Pandanus Press (Australian National University), and has served as a text-book at several universities, notably the University of the South Pacific. The book recently went out of print due to demand, but has been reprinted by ANU E-Press in 2009.

In recent years, Tcherkezoff has conducted ethno-historical work on a reconsideration of the first and early encounters between Polynesians and Europeans. He has analyzed two specific cases in detail, Tahiti in 1768 and Samoa in 1787, when French expeditions came to each of these archipelagos for the first time (Bougainville to Tahiti, Lapérouse to Samoa). The book on the Samoan case, written in English, has received high praise at the Pacific History Association conference in December 2004, and has been the object of numerous positive reviews. It was followed, at Tcherkezoff’s initiative, by the gathering and translation of all French published and unpublished texts and manuscript letters relating to French travellers’ visits to Samoa during early encounters times. These documents were copied and bound, and presented to the National Archives of Samoa, the Library of the National University of Samoa, and the private library of the Head of State in October 2008.

The book on Tahiti, written in French, generated an important debate in Tahiti, as it deconstructed ideas that had remained unquestioned until then, in particular concerning sexual encounters between Tahitian women and European sailors. A second edition is in press. The book garnered attention beyond the French and Tahitian audience, as witnessed by the Australian National University’s decision to have it translated and published (a project currently in progress).

Another result of the collaboration between CREDO under Tcherkezoff’s direction and ANU is a collective book entitled Oceanic Encounters, co-edited by Margaret Jolly, Darrell Tryon and Tcherkezoff and published in 2009, which holds the record of orders and downloads of nearly all ANU E-Press titles. It is the result of two symposia directed by Tcherkezoff and his Australian colleagues, which examined intercultural encounters in a range of cases and historical times from the 18th century to the present. The Australian Research Council awarded Tcherkezoff an International Linkage Fellowship in 2004-2005 for his works on this theme in Samoa and Tahiti. While at the ANU, Tcherkezoff also outlined an historical analysis of the “invention” of the “Melanesia/Polynesia” distinction. Dumont d’Urville was the initiator of this division of the Pacific in 1832, but it was only the last stage of a long series of hypotheses about the existence of “two varieties” of people inhabiting the Pacific, which became labelled two “races” in the 1800s. The book, published in French in 2008 (translation in progress), analyzes that long series, during the 16th-18th centuries, and the integration of the d’Urville model in atlases and text-books for school and universities in the 19th and part of the 20th centuries. It also reconstructs the history of all geographical labels as they were applied to Oceania and its subdivisions. The analysis also considers recent findings by archaeologists, linguists, and geneticists on the unity and diversity of Pacific peoples.

Before his involvement with Pacific Studies, Tcherkezoff’s publications of the early 1980s concerned anthropological theory (such as symbolic classifications in Emile Durkheim’s work, and a reanalysis of models put forward by Levi-Strauss and Louis Dumont in regards to Rodney Needham’s approach to symbolism). This work was submitted as a Ph.D. thesis in 1981 and was published in France in 1983. It attracted enough attention from British colleagues who could read French that Cambridge University Press published an English version in 1987, entitled Dual Classification Reconsidered.

In the last three years, Tcherkezoff has organized symposia and workshops between Anglophone and Francophone researchers of the Pacific. One, held at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji in December 2008, with some 30 participants, focused on the historical and geographical space that constitutes Oceania. Another, a panel of 80 participants at the Pacific Science InterCongress, in Papeete, French Polynesia, in March 2009, concerned the interaction between expression of cultural identities and political nation-building planning. Yet another, held in Noumea, New Caledonia, in October 2009, with 20 participants, focused on research on French Territories and Francophone communities in the Pacific conducted by French-speaking and English-speaking scholars. In the planning is a meeting scheduled for October 2010 about education policies, particularly in relation to the issue of mono- or pluri-linguism in Pacific countries.

Tcherkezoff is working on identifying and developing analytical tools and databases that will enable joint research programmes in the social sciences and in Pacific Studies between English-speaking and French-speaking researchers based in the Pacific. These analytical tools will help overcome differences of methodology deeply rooted in well-established traditions of research. Data collected in a systematic, comparative way within English-speaking and French-speaking Pacific Islands states and territories will help build intellectual cooperation across political boundaries. To achieve this aim, Tcherkezoff is also bringing in his long-term established network of positive mutual association with most of the English-speaking social sciences colleagues in Pacific countries (including Australia: ANU, Sydney, Brisbane; NZ: Canterbury and Otago foremost, but also Wellington and Auckland; Hawaii: University of H at Manoa, and East-West Centre; Vanuatu, mainly at the Vanuatu Kaltjoral Centre; Fiji: mainly at USP, in the department of History –which includes de facto the whole cultural anthropology; Samoa: NUS (National University of Samoa); Tonga: Atenisi; New Caledonia: UNC –Universite de la Nouvelle Caledonie; and Tahiti: UPF: Université de la Polynesie Francaise). Tcherkezoff has been invited to give lectures in all of these Universities. He has conducted joint programmes and organised symposia with researchers in all these Universities. This network is an important asset for future collaborative programmes at a trans-Pacific level, and for overcoming the distance still at work between English-speaking and French-speaking research communities.

 

TCHERKEZOFF, S. -comments on some publications

1987—Dual Classification Reconsidered. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (154 p., hardback and paperback)

In 1974, Rodney Needham developed a structuralist theory of classification in a volume, which he edited, entitled Right Hand, Left Hand. In my book, using hitherto unpublished ethnographic materials mainly from African societies, I argued that Needham’s structuralism still was a functionalist reinterpretation of the opposition between the sacred and the profane that Emile Durkheim developed in the late 19th century. I had proposed a new model for analysing symbolic dualistic systems, based on a methodological holism, which could take into account hierarchical oppositions (encompassment: see Louis Dumont, Homo hierarchicus, 1966). My critique generated a fair amount of attention, particularly in the form of rejoinders and correspondence, and was hailed in England as one of the strongest statements of “post-structuralism” in anthropology. This book is an English translation, commissioned by CUP, of a book originally published in French in 1983.

1997—Le Pacifique-Sud Aujourd'hui: identités et transformations culturelles, S. Tcherkézoff et F. Douaire-Marsaudon (eds.). Paris : CNRS Publications, ("Ethnologie"), 405 p.

Translated into English :2005The Changing South Pacific : Identities and Transformations. Canberra: ANU-RSPAS, Pandanus Press;

republished with same title in 2009, Canberra, ANU E-Press : http://epress.anu.edu.au/changing_south_pacific_citation.html

Consisting of twelve chapters, each focused on a particular society, State, or Territory in the Pacific Islands, this volume is the first French edited collection to deal with socio-cultural change in the region. Among the topics that the chapters analyze figure a new approach to “cargo cults” in Western Pacific, a study of transformations over 25 years in two PNG societies, the evolution of political rights in Tonga, and a proposal for a new methodology in studying cultural change, developed in a chapter of nearly 100 pages focussed on the case of the Samoan society. The English translation of the book quickly became a standard text-book for university courses, which explains why ANU E-Press was keen to publish it again in 2009 when it became out of print.


2001—Le mythe occidental de la sexualite polynesienne : Margaret Mead, Derek Freeman et "Samoa". Paris: Presses Universitaires de France ("ethnologies"), 225 p.

In 1983, Derek Freeman published a widely publicized critique of Margaret Mead’s celebrated 1928 book, Coming of Age in Samoa, which gave rise to the so-called “Mead-Freeman debate” about the varying roles of nature and culture in the shaping of human beings, as well as controversies about the particulars of Samoan society and culture. By that time, I had conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Samoa, but due to its timing I did not take sides in the controversy. This book presents original materials based on this fieldwork and assesses their relevance for the Mead-Freeman debate. It discusses also Mead’s field notes, which became available after their publication by Martin Orans (1996), and it adds a new explanation for Mead’s misinterpretations in 1928. It also scrutinizes Freeman’s methodology and brings to light the numerous biases involved in Freeman’s conclusions. I presented the gist of the book to English-speaking audiences in the form of several articles, particularly in the Journal of Polynesian Society, which generated debates, rejoinders and correspondence.

2003—Faasamoa, Une Identite Polynesienne (Economie, Politique, Sexualite) : L’anthropologie comme dialogue culturel. Paris : L’Harmattan (“ Connaissance des hommes ”), 545 p.

Samoa in the 1980s and 1990s underwent significant transformations in terms of economic structure, political organization, and gender relations. This book focuses on these three themes, and analyzes the significance of these transformations and their implications for an understanding of human society at large. The sections on economic and political transformations develop data and arguments that I had presented in article form in English, which generated significant dialogue. The analysis of gender further develops, during some 200 pages, an entirely new ethnography and arguments, which I presented in more sketchy form in the 2001 book, with issues relevant to education, gender roles, gender as a modality of social relations, and so on.

[the size of the book—more than 300,000 words—has prevented for the time being to secure funding for a translation in English]

2004a—‘First Contacts in Polynesia : The Samoan Case (1722-1848): Western misunderstandings about sexuality and divinity. Canberra/ Christchurch, /Journal of Pacific History Monographs / Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, 222 p.

Republished with same title in 2008, Canberra, ANU E-Press: http://epress.anu.edu.au/first_contacts_citation.html

This book is the first, and up to date unique, attempt to study in detail and from an “island-centred” point of view the history of the early encounters with Europeans (Dutch, French and British expeditions). The second part takes a comparative look (adding the cases of Tonga, Hawaii, Tahiti) on central issues: a) Polynesian interpretations about the nature of these new-comers; b) the case of Captain Cook in Hawaii and a reappraisal of the “Sahlins / Obeyesekere debate” (had Cook been considered by Hawaiians as their “god” Lono?); c) the pan-Polynesian gift-giving of ceremonial cloth to early Europeans, with a discussion of the Polynesian symbolic meanings of “wrapping-in”. The book quickly went out of print and, due to demand, was republished by ANU E-Press. It is today a basic text-book for the history curriculum at the National University of Samoa.

2004b—Tahiti 1768 : Jeunes Filles En Pleurs. La face cachée des premiers contacts et la naissance du mythe occidental. Papeete, Au Vent des Iles (531 p.) [2nd ed. in press] [translation in English in progress for ANU E-Press].

In 1771, Louis-Antoine de Bougainville officially published his account of the “first contact” between French and Tahitians, a work that has been endlessly republished and summarized for specialized and popular audiences alike over the centuries. Based on an original reading of journals written by de Bougainville’s companions, this book demonstrates that the received view of what happened during this “first contact” has been deeply biased. I present a novel reconstruction of the encounter and proceed to reconstruct ethnographically Tahitians’ actions and motivations as they made sense of the newcomers. In this and prior publications (particularly the 2004a book on Samoan-European first and early encounters), I advocate for a reconstruction of these early encounters from an indigenous perspective. This endeavour has given rise to the large-scale project based on a comparative symposium focused on various early encounters (see 2009 entry below).

2008—Polynesie / Melanesie : l’invention francaise des « races » et des régions de l’Océanie. Papeete : Au Vent des Iles, 376 p. [an English translation is in progress]

This is a detailed study of European narratives describing-and-classifying Pacific people, from early explorations. A particular attention is given to the systematic classifications elaborated by “naturalists”, then by “zoologists”, in the 17th to 19th centuries. The “invention” of the Melanesia vs Polynesia distinction, attributed to Dumont d’Urville in 1832, was only one stage in a long genealogy of hypotheses about the existence of “two varieties” of inhabitants of the Pacific, which would eventually become “two races” in the 1800s. Several chapters are devoted to this 16th-18th centuries genealogy. In the following chapters, the analysis is particularly attentive to the historical context in which d’Urville developed his theory through an analysis of his personal diary, which had not been examined before. The book follows further the integration of the d’Urville models in 19th- and 20th-century atlases and text-books designed for high school and universities. It also reconstructs the history of labels designed to describe the whole of Oceania and its subdivisions, in French- and English-speaking traditions, from early voyages to modern times. Finally, it considers recent findings from archaeology, linguistics, and genetics, and presents a critique of the geographical traditions that still inform most history and geography school and university books about the Pacific.

2009—(M. Jolly, S. Tcherkézoff, D. Tryon, eds.) Oceanic Encounters : Exchange, Desire, Violence. Canberra : ANU E Press, 364 p.

The 2004a and 2004b books have given rise to a large-scale project based on a comparative symposium focused on various early encounters. It was held in two stages, alternatively at the CREDO Centre (which I was then the director of) and at the RSPAS of ANU. It is a break through for the analysis of early encounters between Pacific indigenous people and Europeans, with examples from various islands of the Pacific and a great emphasis on attempting to reconstruct what has been the indigenous knowledge of the times. It also reconsiders the whole concept of “first contact”. Although published only since July 2009, the demand for the book has been so great that it has reached the very top layer of the number of downloads of ANU E-Press titles for 2009.
1 Article & 1 Book chapter:

2000—"Multiculturalism and Construction of a national Identity: The Historical Case of Samoan / European relations", The New Pacific Review (special issue "Pacific Identities"): 1 (1): 168-186.

[bilingual issue : the paper is also printed in French : “Multiculturalisme et construction d'une identité nationale: le cas historique des rapports Samoans / Européens”, La Nouvelle Revue du Pacifique, 1 (1): 182-201].

The Constitution of the (then) new State of Western Samoa and the initial Acts of Law established by this State shortly after independence (1962) implemented a Samoan vision of a unitary country that had to incorporate, in the terms of the then official classification, “native” Samoans living in extended clans on communal land and “half-caste” Samoans (mixed descent) living on freehold lands. These visions made their way into the various discussions held with the UN Commissioners and allowed for a better adaptation to the Samoan-specific situation. The paper considers the clashes of values and, in some contexts, the dialogue between these Samoan visions, expressed by a good number of high chiefs of the times, and the often straightforward and Western-centred ideas about citizenship and voting systems that were expressed by the UN Commissioners.

2009“Introduction : an Historical Overview”, in Social science Research in the French-speaking Pacific (Franconesia): State of the Art of the Anglophone Pacific viewpoints (Anglonesia). Towards a new dialogue / « Introduction : historique », in « Etat des lieux sur les recherches SHS conduites par l'Anglonésie du Pacifique à propos de la Franconésie du Pacifique. Pour un nouveau dialogue », Noumea, IRD/UNC, http://agora.univ-nc.nc/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=33&Itemid=63

This recent symposium was organised through my initiative. It was a call addressed to English-speaking researchers of the Pacific Islands who had worked on French territories of the region. Papers are being gathered, and an online publication is already available for the opening and contents of the programme. This is a first practical step to gather comparative data for developing analytical tools that will help to overcome the differences of methodology deeply rooted into the well established traditions of research from “Anglonesia” / “Franconesia” (see the web reference for the presentations of these labels).


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