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close this section of the library George, Nicole Louise.

View the PDF document Situating agency : gender politics and circumstance in Fiji
Author:George, Nicole Louise.
Institution: Australian National University.
Award: Ph.D.
Date: 2006.
Call No.: pac In Process
BRN: 1033480
Copyright:10-20% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission

Abstract: This thesis examines the history of Fiji-based gender activists' political engagements on the local, regional and international stage over the preceding four decades. It asks how has contingency shaped women's political agency at each of these levels. Sensitivity to the interplay between local and global political influences has been crucial to answering this question .and has required a detailed understanding of the importance of local socio-cultural, political and religious influences, historical legacies, regional geopolitical factors, and broader international norms relating to governance and development, at various historical junctures. To appreciate how these contextual influences have been relevant to gender politics in Fiji, and shaped women's political agency across time, the sphere of women's organising is examined here from a critical civil society perspective. This approach allows for a clear understanding of how the domestic and transnational spaces for advocacy which are available to women's groups are not static or constant but shift in response to historical circumstance. At the same time, this history is also 'situated' through an emphasis placed upon actors' own appraisals of contingency and political agency. Drawing heavily upon oral histories, extended consideration is given to how gender activists in Fiji, have themselves, ascribed meaning to their political 'activity at particular points. Thus, attention is drawn to activists' own 'situated' analysis of what has resulted from their political activity, and what has been considered viable in particular contexts. By situating my analysis of gender politics in Fiji in this way, this thesis builds upon the many conventional accounts of women's organising in international relations and political science which commonly establish a conceptual distance between this sphere and the masculinist realm of formal institutions. While these studies frequently chart evidence of women's political agency in terms which suggest a teleology of reform-oriented progress or, conversely, a capacity for resistance which is routinely thwarted by institutional influence, the contestation and flux which is also part of this terrain generally escapes analytical attention. By contrast, through both theoretical and empirically-based discussion, this thesis aims to demonstrate why evaluations of women's organising which are more attentive to context and contingency, ultimately provide a fuller account of women's political agency than is possible within more conventionally framed analysis.
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