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Wheaton College - Norton

Publication Date

Fall 2008

Program Name

Fiji: Multiculturalism and Social Change


This research study presents a comprehensive overview of the art scene in Fiji and explores the ways in which art in a small scale society acts as a vehicle for expression and social change. The term “art” is one that is not easily defined as it is highly personal and subjective to artist and patron alike. There has been a cross-cultural and ongoing debate in trying to answer to question “what is art?”. However despite this it is unanimous in belief by those with an affinity for the arts, that the expression of a society’s people in any form creates link to cultural heritage and a sense of identity. Viewing a society through an artistic lens allows for a pure look into the shared ideologies of a culture. Through familiarizing myself with Fiji’s art scene and local artists, I have formulated a series of conclusions remarking on this sector. I have broken up my research and paper into three distinct sections:

1) Traditional Fijian and Pacific art

2)Fijian Art Today: A look into the Vasu Exhibition

3) The Flip Side: Art as Livelihood- Notions of tourism art and legitimacy

While each section describes a different aspect of the art culture within Fiji, it works overall to present a picture of how art is transcending boundaries in the rapidly changing society. I work to explain how art has a variety of functions in a small scale society like Fiji- as a cultural reminder of one’s heritage, as a way to express contemporary ideas and issues, and as a way to bring in an income. I come to conclude that while art is an extraordinary way to extend oneself, there are issues related to exploitation of the culture, compromised integrity of one’s work and authenticity that come in tandem with being a developing nation heavily dependent on the tourism industry. It is my hope that throughout this paper, one will gain a fresh perspective on the variety of ways in which art is utilized by both artist and patron, and the significance it holds for a country beginning to come to terms with its quickly changing social order.


Arts and Humanities | Politics and Social Change


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