Synopses & Reviews
This study analyzes the ways in which political elites use the idea of "tradition" to legitimize certain practices and institutions. Within this framework, case studies focus on constitutional development and the chiefly power in Fiji, the monarchy and the Pro-Democracy Movement in Tonga, and the political issues surrounding the move to universal suffrage in Western Samoa. The book provides a critical approach to the political implications of romanticizing non-Western cultural traditions, especially in terms of democratic development.
"Stephanie Lawson specializes in Fifian politics, nationalism, and ethnic relations, and her comparative discussion of these polities shows impressive breadth and depth of research. The author's endnotes are extensive, and her bibliography is comprehensive....The issue at hand is not only important to Pacific scholars but also relevant to many other post-colonial societies, and Lawson's well-documented arguments should inform a wide range of historians." David A. Chappell, Historian"This book contributes to a number of contemporary debates....It is therefore a timely and significant book. Each country is treated in great detail and current political developements are put in their historical context. This provides a useful reference book for students of contemporary Pacific isalnd politics. But this is also a provocative book....There are many imponderables thrown up by this book, which is perhaps one of its most provocative and important aspects....Lawson's book will be an essential part of this debate." H-Net Reviews"Lawson argues her case well, and her analyses are clear, concise, and well presented. The volume is a valuable contribution to the study of Pacific island societies and provides a useful guide for the analysis of contemporary politics elsewhere." Robert C. Kiste, American Anthropologist"One of the strengths of Lawson's analysis is that she both sets up an accessible theoretical discussion about tradition, modernity, authenticity, democracy, and offers concrete and comparative case studies of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa....This is refreshing scholarship that should make for lively ongoing debate." K.R.Howe, American Historical Review
Includes bibliographical references (p. 206-221) and index.
Table of Contents
1. Tradition and democracy; 2. Constitutional development, chiefly power, and the politics of tradition in Fiji; 3. The monarchy versus democracy in the kingdom of Tonga; 4. Preserving tradition through democratisation: the introduction of universal suffrage in Western Samoa; Conclusion.