Tour de la Francophonie:

Friday 15 October, 2pm


Between Tradition and Modernity

Entre tradition et modernité

A Zoom Presentation by Philippe Pottier

In French

French Polynesia is widely considered a dream trip for many: lush jungle, palms swaying in the ocean breeze, bungalows perched over turquoise waters and friendly people offering tiare necklaces to newcomers.  While each island group displays a variant of the Polynesian cultural tradition and all are united by over a century of colonial administration, residents maintain cultural identities specific to the home archipelago and home island.


In this Zoom presentation, Philippe Pottier will introduce us to French Polynesia and examine how these identities are beginning to blend into a general national identity as a result of modern transportation, education, and communication networks.


The Territory of French Polynesia is located in the central part of the Pacific Ocean.  It consists of five archipelagoes - Society Islands, Marquesas Islands, Tuamotu Islands, Austral Islands, and Gambier Islands - and a total of 118 islands and atolls, all under French administration.


Tahiti is the largest of the Society Islands. Its population is 133,627 inhabitants (2020), making it the most populous island of French Polynesia and accounting for 68.7% of its total population.  Shaped like a figure-8, it's divided into Tahiti Nui (the larger, western section) and Tahiti Iti (the eastern peninsula). With black-sand beaches, lagoons, waterfalls and 2 extinct volcanoes, it's a popular vacation destination. Explored by Captain James Cook in the 18th century, it was also often painted by French artist Paul Gauguin.

Tahiti was originally settled by Polynesians between 300 and 800 CE. They represent about 70% of the island's population, with the rest made up of Europeans, Chinese, and those of mixed heritage. The island was part of the Kingdom of Tahiti until its annexation by France in 1880, when it was proclaimed a colony of France, and the inhabitants became French citizens. French is the only official language, although the Tahitian language (Reo Tahiti) is widely spoken.

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Philippe Pottier is an expert-consultant in prison administration and probation policies After a career in prison administration, he was promoted Director of the French National School of Prison Administration in 2013.  He also acted as President of the French Association of Criminology. Since 2018, Philippe has worked as a consultant to the Council of Europe.

In 1994, Pottier became director of the integration and probation service of French Polynesia.  The position took him to Papeete, Tahiti's capital city, where he lived for 6 years.