The inhabitants of the overseas departments and collectivities of France have, of late, been reconsidering their relationships both to each other and to the former imperial metropole. In 2011 Mayotte, previously classified as an overseas collectivity, acceded to full French and European status as an overseas department of France following a referendum. This decision to, in the words of the social scientist François Taglioni, further ‘anchor’ the island in the republic has commonly been understood as a pragmatic decision as much as an ideological one. It was a way of distancing Mayotte from the political turmoil in neighbouring independent Comoros, as well as an indicator of the improbability of a small island nation achieving full sovereignty in a multipolar, resource hungry world. The narrative that self-determination must necessarily be obtained through national independence is still prevalent in the language of certain independence movements, including that of the Kanak people of New Caledonia. But it has been repeatedly tested at the ballot box, not least in November 2018 when New Caledonians voted in a referendum on their constitutional future. This referendum – and the further two due to follow it before 2022 – will be observed with interest by other self declared nations in waiting. Some anticipate, not a reclaiming of local sovereignty in the event of independence, but rather a transferral of economic hegemony from France to China, a prospect hinted at by Emmanuel Macron during a visit to Nouméa in 2018. However, the demographic minority status of the Kanak people whom the independentist Kanak and Socialist Liberation Front (Front de libération nationale kanak et socialiste; FLNKS) claims to represent, coupled with divisions within the movement, means it is very hard to predict the contours of a future independent New Caledonian state.