In Disturbing History: Resistance in Early Colonial Fiji, 1874-1914, Robert Nicole focuses on Fiji’s people and their agency in responding to and engaging the multifarious forms of authority and power that were manifest in the colony from 1874 to 1914. By concentrating on the lives of ordinary Fijians, the book presents alternate ways of reconstructing the island’s past. Couched in the traditions of social, subaltern, and people’s histories, the study is an excavation of a large mass of material that tells the often moving stories of lives that have largely been overlooked by historians. These challenge conventional historical accounts that tend to celebrate the nation, represent Fiji’s colonial experience as ordered and peaceful, or British tutelage as benevolent. In its contribution to postcolonial theory, Disturbing History reveals resistance as a constant but partial and untidy mix of other constituents such as collaboration, consent, appropriation, and opportunism, which together form the colonial landscape. In turn, colonialism in Fiji is shown as a force shaped in struggle, fractured and often fragile, with a presence and application in the daily lives of people that was often chaotic, imperfect, and susceptible to subversion.
“Nicole’s work is original in the sense that no one else has pulled together in one place accounts of popular resistance and agency in the early decades of colonial Fiji. He expands what we know of the Colo War, the Tuka Movement, etc., thanks to his close reading of the archives.” —Lamont Lindstrom, professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Tulsa
October 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3291-9 / $52.00 (CLOTH)