Averting irresponsible nationalism: Political Origins of Ratu Sukuna’s Fijian Administration

Robert Norton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Historians of politics in colonial Fiji highlight the contrast between Indian leaders' challenge to European dominance and Fijian chiefs' alignment with European political leaders in defence of colonial rule and against a perceived Indian threat. While this was the major political divide, its emphasis has neglected a moment of disaffection on the part of the leading chiefs that perhaps had the potential to provoke a challenge to the colonial order. The upset of the established pattern of political relations between Fijian leaders and the colonial government on the eve of the Pacific War, involving some unity with Indian leaders in the Legislative Council, influenced a Fijian policy change that shaped the development of Indigenous Fijian leadership and its quest for state power as British rule drew to an end. This paper suggests that Ratu Sukuna's Fijian Administration, established at the end of the war, be understood not simply as the last, and paradoxically the strongest, stage of colonial indirect rule, but more significantly as both an institutionalised expression and containment of a Fijian nationalist potential, initially energised by a tension in government-Fijian relations that, in part, reflected a white racialism in both official and unofficial attitudes and practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-428
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Pacific History
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013


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