Publication details [#10013]

Ramsay, Raylene. 2003. Translation in New Caledonia: writing (in) the language of the other: the "red virgin", the missionary, and the ethnographer. In Fenton, Sabine, ed. For better or for worse: translation as a tool for change in the South Pacific. Manchester: St. Jerome. pp. 133–170.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
Publication language
Source language
Target language
Person as a subject


This study turns on the centrality of translation in New Caledonian culture. It traces the interaction between two cultures, European and Kanak, through the translation work of major figures: the translation of Kanak tales at the height of the colonial enterprise by Louise Michel, deportee from the Paris Commune; the pioneering work of the first French Protestant missionary, Maurice Leenhardt in the early twentieth century, and the contemporary work on texts in Paici and Cemuhi by the ethnographer Alban Bensa. More than half of the texts of indigenous Kanak oral literature exist only in translation. In its turn, the translation of these texts has influenced the emergence of literature by a settler population of European origin. The author follows the contributions made by Michel, Leenhardt and Bensa to a translated and hybrid culture considering the distinctive value and particular character of the 'third spaces' created by very different modes of translation.
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