A national pride or a colonial construct? Touristic representation and the politics of Fijian identity construction
Identity research in the Pacific region has been dominated in the past by discussions of reconstruction and mobilisation of symbols of cultural tradition as a medium of anti-colonial resistance and nationalism. The present article proposes to widen the scope of this literature by exploring mass tourism as a contested field of collective identification. It outlines the historical making of the colonial and post-colonial imagery of indigenous Fijians and its subsequent reification and essentialisation in the context of twentieth-century mass tourism. It further highlights the implication of this process in colonial, anti-colonial and post-independence national politics, in which indigenous Fijians have been variously located: the imagery has been claimed by Western colonialism, transnational corporate capitalism, ethno-nationalism, and counter-hegemony. The article illustrates that collective identity construction is not political in a uni-dimensional manner but constitutes a dynamic arena of ongoing ‘cultural battle’ where multiple power relations unfold simultaneously.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Law and Education, University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji
Publication date: January 1, 2013