Accepted Paper:

Accommodating political crisis: the perspective of ethnic minorities in Fiji  


Norio Niwa

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I examine how minorities try to find and create secure places to live after political crisis. The case of ethnic minorities in Fiji, a multi-ethnic society in Oceania is presented.

Paper long abstract:

Fiji is a multi-ethnic island nation located in Oceania. This island has been suffering from a succession of political crises to this day: two coups in 1987, one civilian coup in 2000 and another coup in 2006. One of the many factors in play behind these political crises is grievance and fear among indigenous Fijians that they have been and will be politically and economically marginalized by other ethnic group especially Indo-Fijians who are mostly descendants of indentured laborers who arrived in the 19th century. To placate these feelings, certain kinds of pro-indigenous Fijian policies have been implemented after each coup sometimes at the cost of other ethnic groups' interests. From the viewpoint of non-indigenous people, instability and policy changes thereafter threaten their status in Fiji and arouse fear about the safety of living. In this presentation, I would like to focus on how ethnic minorities such as Solomon islanders, Ni-Vanuatu and Banabans, try to cope with and even accommodate the continuing crisis in their own way. I wish to show and analyze various strategies they take; from claiming their locality and appealing to their high level of intermarriage with indigenous Fijians, to expecting and sometimes seeking direct or indirect help from their former country or neighboring big countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

Panel P012
Crisis as ongoing reality: perspectives from different anthropological locations (European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) and the Committee for World Anthropologies (CWA) panel)