and Power in Fiji
by Paul Spickard
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.
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.
Over the course of
nearly a decade and a half, Fijian politics began to open up again.
Commissions met and reported.
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
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.
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
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.
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?
Colonial Race-Class System in Fiji
was a loose, frequently warring collection of island peoples when
England took it over as a colony in 1874.
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.
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
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
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.
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
Democracy, and Then ...
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Some others, mainly ethnic Fijians, celebrate the coups as the
necessary assertion of Fijian primordial identity over a state that
is ethnically theirs.
A very small number, largely unrecognized by Fijian public
discourse, tries to recast the Fijian/Indo-Fijian conflict in class
rather than racial terms.
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
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.
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.
by Race, University of South Pacific, 26 October 1992
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.
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
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.
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.”
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
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.
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).
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)..
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,
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).
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),
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
“Sidney Poitier,” PBS American Masters series
(18 February 2001).
My interpretation here follows that of Michael
Howard in Riji: Race and Politics in an Island State,
K. L. Gillion, Fiji’s Indian Migrants: A
History to the End of Indenture in 1920 (Melbourne: Oxford
University Press, 1962), 9.
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.
Robert Frykenberg, personal communication with
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);
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).
B. Lal, Power and Prejudice.
David Stannard, Before the Horror ( ).
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.
E.g., V. Lal, Fiji: Coups in Paradise; B.
Lal, Power and Prejudice; Scarr, Fiji: Politics of
E.g., Waqanisau, “The Only Option.”
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).
E.g., Arlene Griffen, ed., With Heart and
Nerve and Sinew: Post-Coup Writing from Fiji (Suva:
Christmas Club, 1997).
Alexander Mamak, Colour, Culture, and
Conflict: A Study of Pluralism in Fiji (Rushcutters Bay,
NSW: Pergamon Press, 1978).
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).
Field notes, 27 October 1992.
Field notes, 14 October 1992.
Eddie Dean, Rabuka: No Other Way (Suva:
The Marketing Team International, 1988), 11, 121.
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,