A Political Memoir of the Anglo-French Condominium of the New Hebrides

A Political Memoir of the Anglo-French Condominium of the New Hebrides

Authored by: Keith Woodward

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Keith Woodward has produced an inside account of the intricacies of official politics in the latter stages of the history of the Anglo-French Condominium of the New Hebrides, which will be essential reading for anyone interested in the colonial period of Vanuatu. Woodward spent 25 years in the New Hebrides (1953 to 1978) based in the British Residency and it is his long service which makes his memoir so informative and important. Following a fascinating and insightful description of Port Vila and the New Hebrides when he arrived in the 1950s, Woodward focuses the rest of his memoir on issues relating to the difficulties the British faced in convincing the French that the two powers should come to an agreement on decolonisation of the New Hebrides—that is, to establish a process of constitutional advancement leading ultimately to independence.

— Howard Van Trease, Honorary Research Fellow, Emalus Campus, University of the South Pacific, Port Vila

This is a highly original, evocative and engaging memoir which offers an insightful firsthand account of colonial administration, bilateral French and British relations, political change and decolonisation in Vanuatu. It addresses some lacunae in the historiography of Vanuatu and dispels a number of assumptions about French intentions there. It will be of great benefit to people interested in Vanuatu, and more broadly in political change in the Pacific, constitutional arrangements, decolonisation, French-British relations, and particularly the divergent colonial policies of France and the United Kingdom.

— Gregory Rawlings, Anthropology, University of Otago


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Oct 2014
ANU Press
Arts & Humanities: History; Social Sciences: Politics & International Studies, Social Policy & Administration
Europe: France, United Kingdom; Pacific: Vanuatu


‘Keith Woodward, former secretary for Political Affairs in the British National Service in the New Hebrides (1953–78), has produced in his engaging memoir an original and important contribution to the history of Vanuatu’s transformation from a unique Condominium form of colony to an independent state in 1980.’
—Dr Gregory Rawlings, The Overseas Pensioner, Volume 110, 2015.

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