Accepted Paper:

Protection of Natural Resources through a Sacred Prohibition: The Rahui in Rapa  

Author:

Christian Ghasarian (Université de Neuchâtel)

Paper short abstract:

This paper addresses why and how the Insulars of Rapa in the Australes archipelago (French Polynesia) have decided to edict a rahui on fishing in some defined coastal spaces around the Island. It analyses this institution in terms of sacralisation, community logics and individual morality.

Paper long abstract:

This paper addresses why and how the Insulars of Rapa in the Australes archipelago (French Polynesia) have decided to edict a rahui on fishing in some defined coastal spaces around the Island. It first replaces this current institution in relation to sacred conceptions and a general concern on keeping natural resources available to ensure the community's food supply and therefore its survival. Then, it explores the way this consensual self-imposed prohibition is managed by the community in the current practices. Anthropological fieldwork and data allow to enter into the logics and organizations around this protection of the marine fauna everyday of the year except one when, during eight hours (and no more), the sacred prohibition is raised and the fishermen can catch as many fish they want in the previously forbidden areas. The paper finally addresses how the created rules around the rahui imply and is sustained by a morality that implicates each individual who is socialized to consider that any infractions to this prohibition can expose him/her to both social reprobation and structural sanctions.

Panel P43
Rahui and local organizations in Polynesia