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Ethnic Blindness in Ethnically Divided Society: Implications for Ethnic Relations in Fiji

Kant, Romitesh (2019) Ethnic Blindness in Ethnically Divided Society: Implications for Ethnic Relations in Fiji. In: The Palgrave Handbook of Ethnicity. Palgrave MacMillian, Singapore, TBC. ISBN 978-981-13-0242-8

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This chapter critically examines Fiji’s approach to ethnicity by adopting an “ethnically blind” approach to constitutional and political reform since the 2006 military coup. As a multiethnic and culturally diverse society, Fiji has witnessed political conflicts arising from this ethnic and cultural diversity. Since gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1970, Fiji politics have been marked by an alternating pattern of coups and constitutional reform. The country has instituted various constitutional arrangements with a view to meeting group claims to difference and equality. While the 1970 and 1997 Constitutions sought a form of multicultural compromise with the realities of Fiji’s demographic makeup, demands for continued ethno-political paramountcy by sections of the indigenous Fijian (iTaukei) population led to the overthrow of the democratically elected governments in 1987 and 2000. The 1990 Constitution institutionalized the privileged ethno-political status of indigenous Fijians. Following the 2006 military coup, Fiji embarked on a nation-building program designed, inter alia, to create unity by eliminating official categorization based on ethnicity. It is argued that national integration in the Fijian context has been an attempt to forge “unity in diversity,” seeking to wish away sociocultural differences and imposing uniformity in spite of complex cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity. This “ethnically blind” approach has the potential to create more conflict and pose obstacles to unity, peaceful coexistence, progress, and stable development. It recommends that national integration and its benefits can be realized only with the development and entrenchment of a supportive public culture, understanding, respecting, and tolerating differences occasioned by sociocultural diversity

Item Type: Book Chapter
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) > School of Government, Development and International Affairs
Depositing User: Romitesh Kant
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2019 23:54
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2019 23:54

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