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Queer Lives in Fiji

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The thesis gives a postcolonial and queer analysis of queer lives in Fiji. It asks how queer Fijians negotiate the requirements of racialised and sexualised subjectivity in a context of ongoing social marginalisation. Drawing on Ahmed’s (2006) Queer Phenomenology, I undertake a phenomenological close reading to explore the effects of the family, church, and nation on queer bodies in Fiji. The thesis is based on in-depth qualitative interviews with 13 Fijian people (10 Indigenous Fijian and 3 Indo-Fijian) from sexual minority communities in Suva during 2003 to 2004. The hybrid methodology directs attention to the way ethnonationalism, colonialism, and heterogender impacts on queer subjects. Drawing on the work of Gopinath (2005) and Ahmed (2006), I map out the relationships between queer Fijian bodies and the social sites they participate in. Drawing on my close reading of these interviews, I argue that following the 200 putsch family, church, and nation were powerfully aligned with heterogender as sites of racialised meaning making. As a result of this alignment, queer Fijians were subjected to continual ‘stopping’ where their motility within significant social sites was limited by their lack of heterosexual privilege. Heterogender acts as a condition of Indigenous Fijian subjectivity, so that queer bodies risk either being coerced back to the ‘straight line’ or expelled from it through ‘straightening mechanisms’ (Ahmed 2006). In the family, closeness acts disciplinarily so that family members maintain silences and sexuality is relegated to the ‘background’. Violent acts against queer bodies are ‘disgust mechanisms’ that produce shared hyper-masculine subjectivities for perpetrators and shamed subjectivities for queer victims. In this context, I argue that queer bodies are required to ‘swivel’ between ‘straight lines’, and queer ‘lines of sight’.

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