Moving beyond “ethnic” conflict in Fiji: from colonization to the coup of 2006
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to articulate the etiology of ethnic conflict in Fiji that moves beyond polemical interpretations which routinely and often erroneously apportion blame. Design/methodology/approach – A critical survey of ethnic conflict between in Indo- and indigenous Fijians is offered. The implication of British colonialism on the conflict is underscored. Findings – The paper concludes that the first three coups that occurred in Fiji between 1987 and 2000 were, to varying degrees, the coupled result of the deterioration of indigenous paramountcy in Fijian politics on the one hand and the lack of their improvement in socio-economic status on the other. In contrast, the 2006 coup is the product of intra-ethnic discord amongst indigenous Fijians, which ultimately sidelines the question of indigenous paramountcy. Originality/value – Unlike previous arguments that have largely ignored economic determinants in creating and perpetuating ethnic conflict in Fiji, this paper illustrates how such factors are crucial to conceptualize an understanding of discord between Indo- and indigenous Fijians.
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