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The Australian National University

The Pacific Economic Bulletin is not longer being published and will be incorporated into a new journal, Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies. To enquire about the new journal please email

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Issue:Pacific Economic Bulletin - Volume 25, Number 3, 2010

Author:Steven Ratuva

Title:Vakatorocaketaki ni taukei: the politics of affirmative action in post colonial Fiji

Abstract:This article examines the relationship between affirmative action and regime change in Fiji—in particular, how affirmative action has been used as a tool of social engineering. It argues that affirmative action is more than an ordinary policy prescription; rather, it has fundamental social engineering and restructuring intent, based on political and ideological considerations. Changes in the affirmative action programs have been associated with changes in the interests of the ruling élites, and, since independence, there have been shifts in emphasis and strategies resulting from the interests of the élites. Many affirmative action programs have led to failure and loss of state resources. Since the military coup in 2006, most of the affirmative action programs associated with past regimes have been removed, including through the dramatic control and then weakening of the indigenous Fijian middle class, which benefited from past affirmative action policies. Paradoxically, under the rubric of ‘rural development’, the interim government has reinvented affirmative action, but it is now targeted at poor rural villagers and shuns the middle class.

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