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Race and Power in Fiji

by Paul Spickard[1]




For two months in the spring of 2000, gunmen held thirty people hostage inside Fiji’s parliament building in Suva. One of the hostages was Mahendra Chaudhry, the nation’s first Indo-Fijian elected Prime Minister. The rebels, led by failed businessman George Speight, claimed to speak for the indigenous Fijian population. They demanded an end to Indo-Fijian participation in political life. After the gunmen acted on 19 May 2000, Chaudhry’s interracial government fell and the government was taken over by a Fijian-led military group headed by Commodore Frank Bainimarama. That group gradually put pressure on Speight and the rebels, but did not immediately dislodge them. The standoff lasted nearly two months, while the nation’s economy ground to a standstill and civil stability disintegrated. Finally, Bainimarama’s group was overtaken by a council of hereditary Fijian chiefs. In time the rebels were ousted. Speight and his henchmen were charged with treason and languished in jail, but they have yet to be brought to trial.[2]

This was the second similar coup in almost exactly thirteen years. On 14 May 1987, a young ethnic Fijian Lieutenant-Colonel, Sitiveni Rabuka, and ten soldiers took control of the nation from a multiracial government with a Fijian at its head. Theirs was the first military coup against a democratically elected government in South Pacific history. In time Rabuka consolidated his hold on the country and promulgated a racial constitution that allowed only ethnic Fijians to vote and hold office. Indo-Fijians, who constituted a slim plurality of the island nation’s population, began leaving the islands by the thousands. Indo-Fijian department heads at the University of the South Pacific were replaced by ethnic Fijians.[3]

Over the course of nearly a decade and a half, Fijian politics began to open up again. Commissions met and reported.[4] Another new constitution was written. Indo-Fijians were allowed to vote and stand for office. Some began to agitate for the right to own land. In 2001, under that new constitution, the Chaudhry government was elected and took power, ever so briefly. And then it was deposed.[5] This paper attempts to explain the background of this recurring racial-political problem and make some observations about the present and future of Fijian race relations.


Race and Colonialism


It is written that race is about power, and that racial hierarchy is built in the context of colonialism. In fact, racial hierarchy is almost everywhere an essential prop to colonial power. British thinking about race was created in the British colonial encounters in India, Africa, and elsewhere in the empire. European ideas that dominated peoples were inferior were created to rationalize European hegemony. Chinese ideas about race were created in the context of—and, I would argue, to rationalize—Han Chinese colonial domination over Tibetans, Uygurs, Bai, Miao, and other minority nationalities. Euro-Americans made their racial ideas in the twin crucibles of African American slavery and colonial genocide directed against the native peoples of North America.[6]

Both the colonizers and the colonized recognized this dynamic. The link can be illustrated by looking at the way the British colonial government responded to open discussion of race in its colonies. For example, in 1950 Sidney Poitier and Richard Widmark starred in the Hollywood move No Way Out, perhaps the first major movie to take on U.S. racial issues directly and frankly. For that reason, the film was banned by the British colonial government in the Bahamas, a land with a ninety per cent Black population dominated by a White elite. When thousands of Bahamians protested the ban their actions led to the creation of the first indigenous political party, which eventually won independence in 1967.[7]

While it is true in the main that racial hierarchy is about colonialism, the matter has not proceeded quite as simply as that in Fiji. Here we have a former British colony where British racial ideas were inscribed on a complex, multiethnic social situation that was generated largely by colonialism. But in the generation after independence racial hierarchy persisted, not as a conflict between White and Brown, but as one between different Brown-skinned peoples (ethnic Fijians are Melanesians, who physically resemble Africans in many ways; Indo-Fijians are descendants from immigrants from Calcutta, Madras, and other South Asian locations). In the Fijian case, we are brought to the important analytical question: when did colonially-imposed racial ideas become indigenous?


The Colonial Race-Class System in Fiji


Fiji was a loose, frequently warring collection of island peoples when England took it over as a colony in 1874.[8] The British government was initially reluctant to take on the colony, but did so at the request of some Europeans in the islands and also of a number of chiefs in eastern Viti Levu (the largest and most populous island). A year later Arthur Gordon took ship from Mauritius, where he had been colonial governor, heading for his new post in Fiji. A model Victorian colonial administrator, on shipboard Gordon read J. W. B. Money’s primer, How to Govern a Colony.[9] In Fiji he inherited a bankrupt administration and a native population ravaged by measles (40,000 Fijians, more than a quarter of the population, died in the epidemic).

Gordon’s limited resources dictated that he must try to rule indirectly, through those existing chiefs who had supported the British takeover. He encouraged Fijians to maintain their languages and cultural practices. He brought together the collaborator chiefs into a Great Council of Chiefs that is a power in Fijian politics to this day. He found that much of the best agricultural land had already been swept up by Europeans, and that land law varied enormously throughout the islands. He used the Great Council of Chiefs to standardize land tenure and sharply limit the ability of Fijians to alienate land to foreigners, enshrining the new system as “traditional.”

In order to establish a tax base for his administration, Gordon completed negotiations with a large Australian firm, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (CSR), to lease vast tracts of land for sugar cane. At first the workers were Fijians and contract laborers imported from the Solomon Islands and elsewhere in the Pacific. But the colonial government promised CSR that they would bring in tens of thousands of farm workers from India to plant and harvest sugar cane. Between 1879 and 1916, 60,969 Indian laborers came to Fiji on five-year indentures.[10] They lived and worked in miserable, slave-like conditions. At the end of their contracts they were free to go home, but they had been paid very little and no passage money was provided. The overwhelming majority stayed on in Fiji.

The British presided over similar inter-group processes in several other colonial domains. To greater and lesser degrees, in Malaysia, Uganda, South Africa, Guyana, and the Caribbean the makers of the British empire pursued a policy of creating a subaltern class of South Asian (or Chinese in Malaysia) working people, shopkeepers, and clerks to stand partly between themselves and the indigenous masses. Historian Robert Frykenberg has referred to this as “the Indian overseas empire—the British owned it, but Indians ran it.” Such a scheme for managing colonial domains stands in stark contrast to the policies of some other nations. The United States in western North America and Germany in Africa simply obliterated the indigenous peoples. Belgium administered their domains directly with European workers, so that when they left the Congo there were perhaps only a dozen college graduates in the newly independent nation. The British, by contrast, created colonial middleman minorities (as did the Dutch in the East Indies) whom they then left in place at the end of the colonial era.[11]

This meant that a population that was 90 per cent ethnic Fijian in 1881 was nearly 30 per cent Indo-Fijian in 1911, had passed 40 per cent Indo-Fijian by 1936, and was more than 50 per cent Indo-Fijian on the eve of independence in 1966. These were second-, third-, and fourth-generation residents of the islands, with no personal ties to any homeland other than Fiji. Yet British colonial policies and the CSR kept Indians and Fijians apart, much as Hawaiian sugar planters tried (less successfully) to keep apart the various ethnic groups they employed.[12]


Independence, Democracy, and Then ...


In 1970, Britain granted Fijian independence. This was the result of a long process that had begun before the Second World War. Fiji residents went abroad to fight in that war for the Empire, and to help put down anti-colonial movements in the war’s aftermath. Indian and Fijian labor unions led strikes (which sometimes turned into riots against European property) from the latter 1950s on. The worldwide movement to achieve freedom from European colonial rule crested in the 1960s. The British government saw the handwriting on the wall and moved in the mid-1960s toward granting independence.

By that time, half the islands’ population was Indo-Fijian, and 42 per cent was Fijian. Fijians held a monopoly on land ownership but were a population by and large mired in poverty. Indo-Fijians owned and ran many businesses and were prominent in the professions. Fijians were mostly fervent Christians; Indians were Muslims or Hindus. The two communities were strictly self-segregated. For example, the western end of the large island of Viti Levu—sugar country—is almost all Indian; the northern and eastern regions are almost all Fijian; Suva, the capital, had de facto segregated neighborhoods.

The British government, on granting independence, insisted that all Fijian citizens—ethnic Fijian, Indo-Fijian, Chinese, Rotuman, European, other Polynesian, and so on—be allowed to vote and hold office. This was part of the commonwealth vision to create little British-inspired democracies circling the globe, all tied together with the United Kingdom at the center. Up to that time, there had been a legislative council composed of representatives from three racial communities, with each community’s representatives chosen by different rules. European men elected their representatives, Fijian members were chosen by the Great Council of Chiefs (those chiefs who had early on collaborated with the British government), and Indo-Fijian members were chosen by wealthy Indians. Two budding political parties, the New Federation Party (NFP) and the Alliance Party, hammered out a constitution over several years. These parties were led, respectively, by an Indo-Fijian, A. D. Patel, and an ethnic Fijian chief, Ratu Kamisese Mara.[13] Both were officially multiracial parties, but in fact nearly all Indo-Fijians voted for the NFP and almost all ethnic Fijians voted for the Alliance. Ratu Mara’s party won the first election in 1972 as well as the subsequent three elections. But in 1987 a coalition of the NFP and a new Labour Party won a narrow victory. An ethnic Fijian, Timoci Bavadra, headed the ticket, and the majority of his cabinet was Fijian, yet the new government was labeled “Indian dominated.” That set the stage for Rabuka’s coup.[14]




What does all this say about the meanings of race, ethnic community, and nation in Fiji in the late 20th and early 21st centuries?

First, thinking comparatively, one may imagine an interpretation that would suggest that demography may be destiny. Contrast Fiji with Hawai`i. There, more than ninety-five per cent of the native population was killed within three generations after European contact.[15] This meant that Hawaiian national self-definitions, from the mid-1800s on, had to make a place for people whose ancestors came from other places, either would-be colonizers like Americans and Britons, or imported workers like Chinese and Japanese. For Hawaiian nationalists to assert themselves successfully against colonialism, it could only be as part of an ethnically mixed multitude, with a fairly flexible definition of “Hawaiian” and lots of deep social interaction among various groups.[16] In Fiji there was also a large drop in the native population, from perhaps 150,000 people at European contact to 84,000 in the 1920s. But since the native Fijian population remained large and the chiefly structure intact, Fijians were always a factor in society and politics to a greater degree than in Hawai`i. There was no discourse of the inevitable extinction of the Fijian population as there was in Hawai`i.

Second (and this issue will occupy the remainder of this chapter), our view of many issues is obscured by the fact that almost everything that has been written about race in Fiji is about race and politics. Whether the writers address the pre-colonial period, the era of British colonial domination, the coming of independence, the early years of the Fijian nation, or the spasms of the coups, politics is the only context within which race is discussed. Perhaps that is a function of the degree to which nation-building has loomed large throughout Fiji’s recorded history. Sir Arthur Gordon was trying to build a self-supporting colony. Ratu Mara and A. D. Patel were engaged in a contest to build an independent nation. Sitiveni Rabuka and his opponents had visions of the different nations they wanted to fashion. They used political ideas to express their visions, and they used political institutions to try to work their will.

Those who have written about race and politics in Fiji have pursued one of three interpretations. Most writers (mainly Indo-Fijians or outsiders to the islands) are horrified by the racism that is at the core of the coups, by what they see as a naked assertion of Fijian ethnic domination over Indo-Fijians.[17] Some others, mainly ethnic Fijians, celebrate the coups as the necessary assertion of Fijian primordial identity over a state that is ethnically theirs.[18] A very small number, largely unrecognized by Fijian public discourse, tries to recast the Fijian/Indo-Fijian conflict in class rather than racial terms.[19]

Yet relations between the races in Fiji have not only been political relations; they have also been human relations. And very, very little has been written so far in that vein. There is some expressive literature,[20] but only one writer, Alexander Mamak, has written an analytical book about race and social relationships in Fiji, and it has been almost universally ignored. Titled Colour, Culture, and Conflict: A Study of Pluralism in Fiji, Mamak’s book compares the situations of various groups in Fijian society—part Europeans, Rotumans, and others, but most especially ethnic Fijians and Indo-Fijians. It adopts a sociological approach, talking about such things as the differences between urban society in Suva and village life in the hinterlands; class stratification in jobs; union activity; workplace friendships between the races; education; religion; voluntary associations; the dearth of intimate social relationships across racial lines; and finally political parties and elections. Politics is only one dimension of this much broader portrait of the social structure and its racial links. Yet Mamak’s work has been almost completely ignored.[21]

I don’t really care very much about race and politics, so I find the state of racial studies in Fiji rather unsatisfying. I find myself wanting to know more about how people perceive one another, how they feel when they come in contact across racial lines, what motivates them to perceive and to act as they do. In 1992, five years after the first coup, I spent a few weeks wandering around Suva and Lautoka: watching people interact and not; talking with Indo-Fijians, Chinese, ethnic Fijians, Rotumans, and a few Europeans; and trying to get a handle on how they viewed what some of them called inter-communal relations.

One afternoon at the University of the South Pacific, a school that then enrolled roughly equal numbers of ethnic Fijians and Indo-Fijians, I counted pairs of students walking, talking, eating lunch, taking coffee – that is, people who were together voluntarily. I did not count people who were in obvious classroom or office situations, where their occupations would require them to be together. What I saw was a remarkable scene of social segregation.


Couples by Race, University of South Pacific, 26 October 1992



Fijian male

Fijian female

Indo-Fijian male

Indo-Fijian female

Fijian male





Fijian female





Indo-Fijian male





Indo-Fijian female






As one can see from this table, 97 out of the 101 couples I observed were racially homogeneous. There were three pairings of Indo-Fijian and Fijian women, and only one interracial heterosexual couple.[22] In classrooms and offices, Fijians and Indo-Fijians worked side by side in about equal numbers. But when they were on their own time, they interacted hardly at all.

The same was true in the wider society. There are rural parts of Viti Levu (the largest and most populated island) where nearly 100 per cent of the population is Fijian. There are other districts (such as Lautoka on the island’s southwest side) that are almost all Indian. Suva, the capital city, is one of the few places that is richly mixed. Yet there is a lot of neighborhood segregation even in Suva. One neighborhood is divided by a main shopping street. Downhill to the northwest, the population is all Indian. There are Muslim houses of prayer and Hindu temples. Uphill and to the southeast from the main street is an all-Fijian neighborhood, dotted with Christian churches. Fijians and Indians meet only on the high street, but they shop in separate grocery stores run by their ethnic confreres. The only place I found Fijians and Indo-Fijians together was in Fong’s Market—Chinese-run, and therefore presumably neutral territory.[23]

The people I questioned about inter-communal relationships spoke of them in terms of differences of religion, not race. An Indo-Fijian man in his thirties whom I interviewed in Nadi, a nearly all Indian district, said that he knew of almost no social interaction between Indians and Fijians, and no intermarriages. He cast the difference in religious terms: “They eat beef and pork. We do not. That’s—that’s the difference.” An Indo-Fijian family could never allow their daughter to marry a Fijian man, for that would mean giving their blessing for her to eat beef and pork. Questioned as to whether there might be other possible factors besides religiously-related cultural practices that kept the two groups apart, this Indian man grew nervous and terminated the interview.[24]

Without the dietary references, Sitiveni Rabuka similarly laid religion near the heart of antipathy between ethnic Fijians and Indo-Fijians: “The Bible makes quite clear that God chose Fiji for the Fijians.” The 1987 coup was “essential for the survival of the Fijian race. As simple as that.” The coup was “a mission that God has given to me.” Further, “I want the Indians to be converted to Christianity… It will be big challenge for us to convert them to Christianity…we either go that way, or they convert us and we all become heathens…Christianity must be the official religion of Fiji, because that is the religion chosen by the Fijians… Those who do not choose to become Christians can continue to live here, but they will probably find that it is a difficult place to live in.”[25]

There is a lot going on in such interactions: near total social segregation between ethnic Fijian and Indo-Fijian; a laying of this division at the door of religion. But off the record, a lot of Indians talk about Fijians as sexual, violent, irresponsible, foul-smelling. And many ethnic Fijians talk about Indo-Fijians as effeminate, money-grubbing, heartless.

No one seems to be exploring these kinds of issues, and I’m trying to figure out why not. Some may answer that social relationships are luxury items in a highly dangerous political situation. The political task in Fiji is so urgent—and so fraught with difficulty—that we cannot be bothered to look at the personal side of things. When times are more peaceful, then we can pursue those less basic issues. Yet it seems to me that inter-group perceptions and human relationships are basic issues. They provide the essential stuff of which politics is made, the categories on which politicians act, the understandings of groups that motivate political allegiances and actions. If we can figure out what is going on socially—why all those students are travelling in racially segregated groups (and what it means to them to do so), why Fijians and Indians don’t share neighborhoods or grocery stores, why they sometimes speak ill of each other in fairly graphic terms—and if we can figure out in some detail how people are perceiving and feeling about one another, then maybe we can understand better how to defuse the political situation and create a more stable polity.

I find something of the same problem as I confront the larger project of which this paper is a part. Perhaps it is my fault for beginning the title with “Race and Nation”; I am really much more interested in “Identity and Power.” At our meeting last spring in Sardinia, I found some of us talking past each other just a bit. Some of us were talking about the stories of relationships among groups, about the ways that people formed social relationships (and didn’t), about racial ideas and perceptions of one’s own group and others affected people’s lives. Others focused quite narrowly, I thought, on questions of how the polity was constructed.

Then one night, one of the participants in that conference made clear to me what the problem was (it may no longer be clear to him, as he had been drinking at the time). He said, “It’s not about citizenship. It’s about membership. It’s about belonging and identifying and feeling and doing.” So much of the writing and thinking that is done in this area focuses on the nation-state, on the body civic, and on political institutions and expressions. This is especially true in European studies of race and ethnicity, and also among US political scientists who work on race in international comparative perspective.[26] It is not clear to me why the state of the nation must be the most important issue, or why the nation-state must be the necessary frame for illuminating racial dynamics. Like my more-or-less drunk friend, some of us hope to speak more to the human experience of race and identity, and less to the political and national.

Early in this paper I observed that the British had left a strange legacy in Fiji, and posed the question, when did colonially-imposed racial ideas become indigenous? The question remains an important one, but we cannot quite get to an answer by pursuing a political study, as have so many writers on race in Fiji.



[1]        Earlier versions of this paper were presented to the Social Science History Association, Chicago, 16 November 2001, and to the Collegium for African American Research in Chia Laguna, Sardinia, 24 March 2001. I am grateful to my CAAR colleagues for their comments, in particular to those who are working with me on the cooperative research project: Race and Nation, Identity and Power: Ethnic Systems Around the World. In addition, I have learned much about this subject from four former students: Corrine Morris, Victor Narsimulu, Denise Yee, and the late Seta Kaumaitotoia. Finally, I am grateful to Eric Shumway, who first sent me to Fiji. An interpretation of this sort depends to an unusual extent on secondary sources. The main secondary histories include Michael C. Howard, Fiji: Race and Politics in an Island State (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1991); Brij V. Lal, Broken Waves: A History of the Fiji Islands in the Twentieth Century (Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press, 1992); Stewart Firth and Daryl Tarte, eds., 20th Century Fiji (Suva: USP Solutions, 2001); Deryck Scarr, Fiji: A Short History (Sydney: George Allen and Unwin, 1984); Padmini Gaunder, Education and Race Relations in Fiji, 1835-1998 (Lautoka, Fiji: Universal Printing, 1999); and Timothy J. Macnaught, The Fijian Colonial Experience: A Study of the Neotraditional Order under British Colonial Rule Prior to World War II, Pacific Research Monograph No. 7 (Canberra: Australian National University, 1982).


[2]        This summary is taken from accounts that appeared in various newspapers and websites, notably The Times of London, Fijian government web pages (www.fiji.gov.fj), and The Fiji Times (www.fijivillage.com/news/fijitimes)..


[3]        1987 coup is the subject of several books, including Victor Lal, Fiji: Coups in Paradise: Race, Politics and Military Intervention (London: Zed, 1990); Brij V. Lal, Power and Prejudice: The Making of the Fiji Crisis (Wellington: New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, Victoria University, 1988); Deryck Scarr, Fiji: Politics of Illusion: The Military Coups in Fiji (Kensington: New South Wales University Press, 1988); Jeremaia Waqanisau, “The Only Option: Fijian Coup Détat: A Product of Political Development” (MA thesis, Department of Politics, Cartmel College, University of Lancaster, UK, 1989); Robert T. Robertson and Akosita Tamanisau, Fiji: Shattered Coups (Leichhardt, NSW: Pluto Press, 1988);


[4]        Sir Paul Reeves, Tomasi Rayalu Vakatora, and Brij Vilash Lal, The Fiji Islands Towards a United Future: Report of the Fiji Constitution Review Commission, 1996, Parliamentary Paper No. 34 (Suva: Parliament of Fiji, 1996); Brij V. Lal and Tomasi Rayalu Vakatora, eds., Fiji Constitution Review Commission Research Papers, 2 vols. (Suva: School of Social and Economic Development, University of the South Pacific, 1997).


[5]        One can follow the course of politics in the 1990s in the pages of sources like these: Ralph R. Premdas, Ethnic Conflict and Development: The Cast of Fiji (Aldershot, UK: Avebury, 1995); Reeves, et al., Fiji Islands Towards a United Duture; Brij V. Lal and Peter Larmour, eds., Electoral Systems in Divided Societies: The Fiji Constitution Review, Pacific Policy Paer 21 (Canberra: National Centre for Development Studies, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, 1997); Robert T. Robertson, Multiculturalism and Reconciliation in an Indulgent Republic: Fiji After the Coups, 1987-1998 (Suva: Fiji Institute of Applied Studies, 1998); Lal and Vakatora, Fiji Constitution Review Commission Research Papers; Stephanie Lawson, Tradition versus Democracy in the South Pacific: Fiji, Tonga and Western Samoa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 37-76; John D. Kelly, “Aspiring to Minority and Other Tactics Against Violence,” in Making Majorities: Constituting the Nation in Japan, Korea, China, Malaysia, Fiji, Turkey, and the United States, ed. Dru C. Gladney (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1998), 173-97.


[6]        Robert J. C. Young, Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture, and Race (London: Routledge, 1995); Paul Spickard and Rowena Fong, “Ethnic Relations in the People's Republic of China: Images and Social Distance between Han Chinese and Minority and Foreign Nationalities," Journal of Northeast Asian Studies, 13.1 (Spring 1994), 26-48; Paul Spickard and G. Reginald Daniel, “Independence Possible,” in Uncompleted Independence: Racial Thinking in the United States, ed. Spickard and Daniel (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, forthcoming); Karina Kahananui Green, “Colonialism’s Daughters: European Images of Hawaiian Women,” in Pacific Diaspora: Island People in the United States and Across the Pacific, ed. Paul.Spickard, Joanne L. Rondilla, and Debbie Hippolite Wright (Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press, in press); Albert Memmi, The Colonizer and the Colonized (Boston: Beacon, 1965); Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove, 1963); Reginald Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981); Allan Hanson, “The Making of the Maori: Cultural Invention and Its Logic,” American Anthropologist, 91 (1989), 890-902; Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Knopf, 1993); Michael C. Howard, ed., Ethnicity and Nation-Building in the Pacific (Tokyo: United Nations University, 1989).


[7]           “Sidney Poitier,” PBS American Masters series (18 February 2001).


[8]        My interpretation here follows that of Michael Howard in Riji: Race and Politics in an Island State, 24-52.


[9]        K. L. Gillion, Fiji’s Indian Migrants: A History to the End of Indenture in 1920 (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1962), 9.


[10]      This compares to the following numbers of indentured Indians who went to other British colonies between the 1830s and World War I: Mauritius 453,063; British Guiana 235,909; Natal 152,184; Trinidad 143,939; Jamaica 36,412; Surinam 34,000. Brij V. Lal, “Fiji Girmitiyas: The Background to Banishment,” in Vijay Mishra, ed., Rama’s Banishment (Auckland: Heinemann, 1979), 18.


[11]         Robert Frykenberg, personal communication with the author.


[12]      Ronald Takaki, Pau Hana: Plantation Life and Labor in Hawai`i (Honolulu: University of Hawai`I Press, 1984). On the Indo-Fijian population in this period, see Gillion, Fiji’s Indian Migrants; Adrian C. Mayer, Indians in Fiji (London: Oxford University Press, 1963); Vijay Naidu, The Violence of Indenture in Fiji (Suva: School of Social and Economic Development, University of the South Pacific, 1980); Brij V. Lal, Chalo Jahaji: On a Journey Through Indenture in Fiji (Suva: Fiji Museum, 2000); Brij V. Lal, Girmitiyas: The Origins of the Fiji Indians (Canberra: Journal of Pacific History, 1983); Ahmed Ali, Girmit: The Indenture Experience in Fiji (Suva: Fiji Museum, 1979); Ahmed Ali, Plantation to Politics: Studies on Fiji Indians (Suva: University of the South Pacific, 1980);


[13]      Ratu Mara tells his story in The Pacific Way: A Memoir (Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press, 1997); Patel is remembered by Brij V. Lal in A Vision for Change: A. D. Patel and the Politics of Fiji (Canberra: National Centre for Development Studies, Australian National University, 1997). On early independence-era politics, see also Brij V. Lal, ed., Politics in Fiji: Studies in Contemporary History (La`ie, Hawai`i: Institute for.Polynesian Studies, 1986); Robert Norton, Race and Politics in Fiji (New York: St. Martin’s 1977); and Raj K. Vasil, Politics in Bi-Racial Societies: The Third World Experience (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1984).


[14]          B. Lal, Power and Prejudice.


[15]          David Stannard, Before the Horror ( ).


[16]      This is not to say that Hawai`i is a racial democracy or social paradise, for it has quite a lot of racial hierarchy, but there is (and has been for a long time) more open and deep interaction among groups there than almost anywhere of which I am aware.


[17]      E.g., V. Lal, Fiji: Coups in Paradise; B. Lal, Power and Prejudice; Scarr, Fiji: Politics of Illusion


[18]         E.g., Waqanisau, “The Only Option.”


[19]      A sophisticated and suggestive example here is William Sutherland, Beyond the Politics of Race: An Alternative History of Fiji to 1992 (Canberra: Department of Political and Social Change, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, 1992).


[20]     E.g., Arlene Griffen, ed., With Heart and Nerve and Sinew: Post-Coup Writing from Fiji (Suva: Christmas Club, 1997).


[21]      Alexander Mamak, Colour, Culture, and Conflict: A Study of Pluralism in Fiji (Rushcutters Bay, NSW: Pergamon Press, 1978).


[22]      I also observed nine pairs involving someone who was not Indo-Fijian or Fijian (e.g., Chinese or European), and four casual groups that included more than two people (all these were racially homogeneous).


[23]         Field notes, 27 October 1992.


[24]         Field notes, 14 October 1992.


[25]      Eddie Dean, Rabuka: No Other Way (Suva: The Marketing Team International, 1988), 11, 121.


[26]       See, e.g., Ernst Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Oxford: Blackwell, 1983); Anthony D. Smith, The Ethnic Origins of Nations (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986); John Armstrong, Nations Before Nationalism (ChapelHill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982); Manning Nash, The Cauldron of Ethnicity in the Modern World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989); Thomas H. Eriksen, Ethnicity and Nationalism (London: Pluto Press, 1993); Walker Connor, Ethno-nationalism: The Quest for Understanding (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994); Etienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein, Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities (London: Verso, 1991); Rogers Brubaker, Citizenship and Nationhood (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992); Ernest Renan, “What Is a Nation?” from Homi K. Bhabha, ed., Nation and Narration (London:.Routledge, 1990), 8-22; Donald Horowitz, Ethnic Groups and Conflict (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985); David Brown, The State and Ethnic Politics in Southeast Asia (London: Routledge, 1994); Anthony D Smith, ed., Ethnicity and Nationalism (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1992).