The impact of the market economy is a significant challenge facing Fijian rural communities. It is especially challenging for indigenous rural women who are managing the shift from a subsistence way of living to engagement in money generating activities. The challenge is more acute amongst disadvantaged populations such as women in rural communities who lack the resources and the political power to manage these challenges. The thesis provides a critical ethnographic, action-research study of the daily socioeconomic experiences of a group of Fijian village women, at this time of significant change. It provides and in-depth case study of a rural Fijian village located in the upper reaches of the Sigatoka Valley. The case study focuses on the women's perspectives about their daily lived experiences and actions that followed from reflection on these, drawing out from these implications for indigenous Fijian women's social progress and development. Herself, a member of the community, the researcher gathered data by a combination of participant observation, survey, diaries, focus groups and interviews. The researcher's observations and understandings were fed back to the participants in the form of a workshop with the intention of confirmation and to provide and opportunity for action based on this reflection. It is argued that the success of managing the influence of the market economy on the villagers is to create social and political spaces and opportunities to hear and understand local epistemologies and daily lived experiences, reflexively. As an indigenous scholar, the researcher interrogates and deconstructs her own academic epistemologies and positions as a knowledge broker in order to co-construct new practices with her people. The research promises to make public Fijian village women's knowledge, values, practices and experiences so that they can be understood by local scholars and local government development officers. Privileging the village women's knowledge and bringing it to the core is a significant political act that might form the basis of proceeding political encounters that women will face in the development process.
|Date of Award||2006|
|Supervisor||Marie Brennan (Supervisor) & Christine Jack (Supervisor)|