My research explores coups and ethnic conflict in Fiji from a (historical) anthropological perspective. It draws on my fieldwork amongst the multi-ethnic inhabitants of Suva, Fiji’s capital city, focusing on people’s memories of the 1987 and 2000 so-called ethnic coups from the ethnographic present denoted by my presence in Suva between 2002 and 2004. By bringing different ethnographic presents and different ethnic voices into dialogue with one another, I problematise the notion of coups as events that belong to the historical phenomenological archive, and as solely negative and rupturing. The voices of my informants illustrate instead that the coups of the past leak into the present, and are in some ways acted upon and within a future-oriented perspective. Further, coups can be exciting as well as disorientating, opening up new potentialities – for those people who look to settle or build futures outside their perceived homeland (e.g., Indo-FIjian emigration) as much as for the people who see coups as delivering their homeland back to them. The idea of potentiality exists too in examining coups along circulations of being and behaving at individual, inter-personal, inter-ethnic and national levels. By examining the variety of ways in which coups impact the people of Fiji phenomenologically, as well as how they are used to create spaces of resistance to the rhetoric of ethnic conflict, my research suggests that conflict resolution is more appropriately approached not after the event, as it were, or in a post-conflict landscape, but in the ways that people subvert conflict narratives in the midst of experiences like coups. My ethnography of coups in the apparently fragile multi-ethnic state of Fiji can therefore be extrapolated to other conflict societies, as well as orienting us towards a new anthropology of coups.
Bainimarama and the Fiji public’s democratic mandate. The Conversation. 18th September 2014. http://theconversation.com/how-fijian-dictator-bainimarama-finally-earned-his-mandate-31856
“Culture, conflict and coups in Fiji: the politics and affect of ethnicity”. Anthropology in London Conference, University College London (London), 24th June 2014.
“Navigating the ethnic conflict paradigm: how to be a British Indian researcher in Fiji”. Royal Anthropological Institute Post-Graduate Conference, Brunel University (London), 3rd-4th September 2014.
“The fieldworker as internal other: reflections on being British Indian in Fiji after the 2000 coup”. Migrant Cross-Cultural Encounters Conference, University of Otago (New Zealand), 24th-26th November 2014 (forthcoming).
“TBC”. Austronesian Research Seminar, London School of Economics (London), December 2014 (forthcoming).
“How Fijian dictaror Bainimarama finally earned his mandate”. The Conversation. 18th September 2014. http://theconversation.com/how-fijian-dictator-bainimarama-finally-earned-his-mandate-31856
“Fiji: Bainimarama steps down, but military still waits in wings”. The Lowy Institute: The Interpreter. 7th March 2014. http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/author/Jas%20Kaur.aspx
Book Review of Listening on the Edge: Oral History in the Aftermath of Crisis edited by Mark Cave and Stephen M. Sloan. LSE Review of Books. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsereviewofbooks/2014/09/02/book-review-listening-on-the-edge-oral-history-in-the-aftermath-of-crisis
Book Review of India: Political Ideas and the Making of a Democratic Discourse by Gurpreet Mahajan. LSE Review of Books. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsereviewofbooks/2014/04/23/book-review-india-political-ideas-and-the-making-of-a-democratic-discourse
Editor of “Avtar: the not so terribly good Sikh of Great Britain” blog.https://theavtar.wordpress.com
Former roles and positions
Executive Co-Chair, Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN) at the London School of Economics. http://www.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/units/ASEN/Home.aspx
Assistant Editor and Editorial Board Member, Nations & Nationalism. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291469-8129
Seminar Co-Chair, Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN) at the London School of Economics. http://www.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/units/ASEN/Home.aspx
Research Assistant, Citizens’ Constitutional Forum, Fiji.
PR Consultant for blue-chip pharmaceutical clients, UK and worldwide.