Decolonizing International Relations: A Re-Memory of Indentured Servitude in Fiji and How it Impacts Our Present and Future

61 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2020

Date Written: January 28, 2013


In response to the fourth coup in the Fiji Islands in as many as seventeen years, the international community demanded the restoration of democracy and order in the country. Historical memories of a British colonialism that brought Indians to Fiji as indentured laborers and proceeded to construct a ‘museum’ for the Euro-American imagination that resulted in such tumultuous conditions in Fiji are conveniently cast aside in a colonial globality masquerading as “liberal international order.” These memories, histories beyond the Western construct of the nation-state, histories of colonialism, are also missing from dominant discourses of realism, liberalism, constructivism and historical materialism. The case of Fiji serves as an example of a ‘postcolonial’ nation-state that current academic IR theory cannot offer much support to since it has a colonial epistemology, shackled and bounded within the confines of the Western-constructed nation-state system.

Hence, this paper will shed the secure and comfortable land of the Euro-American, travel down the kala pani (Pacific) waters, and shipwreck on Vanua Levu, one of the many islands in the archipelago of Fiji, as the first Indian indentured laborers did when they were taken from one part of the British empire to another. In a place that is romanticized as paradise in the Euro-American imagination, we will pull back the curtains of the imagined museum and reveal a ‘post-colonial’ nation struggling with export-oriented dependent development while burning in the flames of ethnic-tensions created by the then British Empire and sustained today by a colonial globality. This colonial globality is emulated by the modern nation-state, in which differences are created and otherized, sustained within national spaces and across the inter-national. It is the crucial intervention of historical memory pertaining to the construction of the nation-state and the inter-national that makes possible this Discovery. We propose decolonizing IR through critique where the voices and histories subaltern to IR, but so crucial to the production of the local, the national and therefore, global, are put back on the agenda, which should ultimately provide for more honest and responsible scholarship.

Keywords: International Relations, Colonialism, Post-Colonialism, Post-Colonial Identity, Fiji, Historical Memory, Narratives, Indentured Servitude, Coup Culture, Colonial Globality, Realism, Liberalism, Historical Materialism, Constructivism

Suggested Citation

Lal, Prerna P, Decolonizing International Relations: A Re-Memory of Indentured Servitude in Fiji and How it Impacts Our Present and Future (January 28, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Prerna P Lal (Contact Author)

Lal Legal, APLC ( email )

2001 Addison Street
Suite 300
Berkeley, CA 94704


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