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Colour, Class and Custom: The Literature of the 1987 Fiji Coup

CollectionsANU Pacific Institute
Title: Colour, Class and Custom: The Literature of the 1987 Fiji Coup
Author(s): Ewins, Rory
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : Dept. of Political and Social Change, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University.
Series/Report no.: Regime Change and Maintenance in Asia and the Pacific. Discussion paper series: No. 09
rhis paper is concerned with the dramatic events surrounding the 1987 coup in Fiji. In his respect it is hardly unique: although the coup occurred only five years ago, Hundreds of thousands of words have already been published concerning its possible explanations. Rather than attempt to compete directly with those many books and articles, I seek to explain the explanations by surveying the key works on the coup mat were available up to late 1990, categorizing the major explanations they give for the coup, and offering my own opinions as to which explanations are the most valuable. Newer works on the coup will, of course, present somewhat more sophisticated explanations than were offered in the months of confusion which immediately followed May 1987. Readers of this paper should keep in mind the time during which the works surveyed were written; some explanations given weight during 1987 and 1988 are held in considerably less esteem now. I certainly do not wish to suggest that the writers discussed herein should be held to every word they wrote three or four years ago; I imagine, though, that they would continue to defend the broad thrust of their arguments, just as I defend those that I have given here. Thanks are due to several people who were involved in seeing this paper through to its present form: Richard Herr, who supervised the original honours dissertation and suggested its publication; Trevor Sofield, for extensively discussing the coup with me in late 1990; William Sutherland, for many helpful and interesting discussions about the 'politics of tradition'; Brij Lal and Stephanie Lawson, for their specific advice about this paper and possible areas for its improvement; and Ron May and Claire Smith for their editorial help. Finally, thank you to everyone in the departments of Political Science, University of Tasmania, and Political and Social Change, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.


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