Imagining nationhood: Narratives of belonging and the question of a Christian state in Fiji

Lynda Newland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The idea that Fiji should be a Christian state resurfaces periodically. In 2012, it has appeared in a number of submissions to the Constitution Committee from the Methodist Church and a political party, the SDL, both of which are known to have strong support from the majority of iTaukei (indigenous Fijians). This paper explores how an influential faction of iTaukei Methodists has imagined Fiji as a Christian community connected to 'place' through kinship and narratives of historical belonging. After sketching out iTaukei claims that resulted in the 1987 and 2000 coups, it examines the impact of the 2010 Decree, which shifted the word 'Fijian' from being a marker of racial identity to one of national identity, and shows the disjunction between notions of a democracy based on international conceptions of human rights and the desire of many iTaukei for a Christian state. This religious nationalism reflects the tension between communal and national identities, paralleling similar tensions in countries like India. Lastly, the article examines some of the public responses to the Constitution Commission, which was the first time since the 2006 coup that the public have felt able to openly discuss their views about governance in Fiji. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-242
JournalGlobal Change, Peace and Security
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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