Regionalism and colonialism in contemporary Oceania

Stephanie Lawson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Regionalism in Oceania emerged in a context shaped both by the decolonisation movement as well as the Cold War, the dynamics of which are still being played out today. This article considers two cases of particular interest in current regional politics which illustrate a number of important contradictions in conventional approaches to the analysis of colonialism. The first involves the two larger French territories in the region – New Caledonia and French Polynesia – which have recently been admitted to full membership of the Pacific Islands Forum despite falling short of the technical requirements for such membership, namely independent status. The second concerns Indonesia’s claim to sovereignty over West Papua. Although this claim has been recognised in international law since 1969, its basis is highly suspect and Indonesia’s record from the start is arguably tantamount to a repressive form of colonialism enabled by the United Nations itself. Placed in comparative perspective, these cases invite us to reconsider just what colonialism on the one hand and self-determination on the other really mean in the contemporary period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-153
Number of pages11
JournalRound Table
Issue number2
Early online date15 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Australia
  • colonialism
  • French Pacific
  • Indonesia
  • New Zealand
  • Pacific Islands Forum
  • regionalism
  • self-determination
  • the Canberra Agreement
  • West Papua


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