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Ethno-nationalism and the Fijian grassroots



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Fiji has been noted for its problems with racial tensions. Previous analyses have focused on the role of the Fijian elite in propagating racial tensions against the Indo-Fijian community. Therefore, this thesis endeavoured to find out, how do ordinary Fijians feel about ethno-nationalism? Are they active players in spreading such sentiments? The study placed increased focus on eastern Fijians, given that their elite had their power entrenched at Cession. This examination found that while stereotypes and biases that are ethno-nationalistic in nature do exist, eastern Fijians want other challenges to be addressed. More specifically, poverty and gender issues are two concerns requiring attention. Modernization has increased poverty, as many Fijians lack the skills to access better paying jobs. The Fijian culture plays a big role here, as it encourages ordinary Fijians to view education suspiciously. Furthermore, cultural emphasis on rank and patriarchy makes Fijians, including women, subservient to those with higher status. This means that problems such as violence against women are prevalent. NGOs are involved in trying to address these concerns, although with limited success. NGOs and ordinary Fijians conflict in how best to deal with poverty. NGOs argue that changes at the political level will help decrease poverty. On the other hand, the Fijian grassroots want direct measures to help them overcome their plight. With gender issues, women’s NGOs are more successful, as their work also gives direct attention to Fijian women. This is highlighted by the fact that more Fijian women are speaking out against their plight. This study is significant because it shows that ordinary Fijians are not active players in the promotion of ethno-nationalism. Instead, other actors, such as the Fijian elite and NGOs, are involved in ethno-nationalistic disputes.



racial tensions, Fiji



Master of Arts (M.A.)


Political Studies


Political Studies


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