Feared rumours and rumours of fear: The politicisation of ethnicity during the Fiji Coup in May 2000

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    Abstract

    In this article I explore rumour and fear as crucial to the politicisation of ethnicity and the attempt of ethno-nationalists to gain political hegemony during the coup in Fiji in May 2000. I discuss rumours during the Fiji crisis as emotional discourses articulating fears and anxieties that have influenced interethnic relations in Fiji since the indenture of Indian labour. I argue that these feelings of fear and insecurity are linked historically to issues of land, demography and race and investigate how the George Speight Team and Fijian ethnonationalists aimed at reinforcing and foregrounding these emotions to mobilise support. I also look at the role of rumours and fear in the silencing of dissent and opposing voices. I ask how rumours were in dialogue with other discourses circulating at the height of the crisis and how they complemented ethno-nationalist political strategies. I suggest that part of the political success of the George Speight Team stems from their effective engagement of different local, national and global levels to reinforce an old discourse of ethnic Fijian unity and fear of Indo-Fijian colonisation around which they mobilised ethnically based political support. The effect of this 'indigenous articulation' was a polarisation of Fijian and Indo-Fijian positionings in the nation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)387-402
    JournalOceania
    Volume75
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

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