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Sanitation and Seeing: The Creation of State Power in Early Colonial Fiji

  • Nicholas Thomas (a1)

British rule in the former Crown Colony of Fiji was a paradoxical affair in several ways. The first Governor, Sir Arthur Gordon, had been shocked by the dispossession of the New Zealand Maori and was determined to subordinate settler interests in Fiji to those of the indigenous population. From the time of cession by a group of paramount chiefs in 1874, administrative policies and structures aimed to defend, protect, and institutionalize the traditional Fijian communal system. For example, what were thought to be traditional chiefly privileges, such as rights to produce, were legally enshrined and articulated with an indirect rule system of appointed village, district, and provincial chiefs. Land was made the inalienable property of clan groups of certain types (which Fijians were obliged to create where they did not already exist).

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Nicholas Thomas , “Material Culture and Colonial Power: Ethnological Collecting and the Establishment of Colonial Rule in Fiji,” Man, 24:1(1989), 4156.

Veil of Dishonour: Sexual Jealousy and Suicide on Fiji Plantations,” Journal of Pacific History, 20:3/4 (1985), 135–55;

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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