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A national pride or a colonial construct? Touristic representation and the politics of Fijian identity construction

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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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Keywords: Fiji; colonialism; counter-hegemony; touristic representation

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

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