The Lie of the Land: Suturing the Jural and the Ritual in Fiji, Western Pacific

Allen Abramson

in Law and Anthropology

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199580910
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723025 | DOI:

Series: Current Legal Issues

 The Lie of the Land: Suturing the Jural and the Ritual in Fiji, Western Pacific

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This chapter examines the partially unobserved, partly mediated dual powers of social control in Fiji. It charts the jural rise of ‘native land tenure’ in early colonial Fiji; details the rich constitution of ritualized land and house relations that were subterranean to this jural gaze; and examines the important structural connections that stitched together — or sutured — the contradictory domains of legally codified ‘native land tenure’ and uncodified ritual land-relatedness. The chapter shows that most of the interconnections between the jural and ritual spheres in Fiji were — and still are — fashioned from below by the locally wider vision of indigenous perceptions, interests, and politics. The result has been the surprisingly enduring grassroots harmonization of quite incommensurable systems of relatedness and regulation. It is argued that whilst this Fijian case is framed by its own particular historical and cultural setting, such officially unobserved dualism is a common one, fostered as it usually is by the conceptually blind misrepresentations of centralized sovereign power and authority on the one hand, and by the greater knowingness of only partly-incorporated subaltern orders, on the other.

Keywords: Social control; dual powers; Fiji; native land tenure

Chapter.  11279 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Law

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