SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Jas Kaur

BA (Hons) German; MA Social Anthropology
  • Overview


Staff Silhouette
Ms Jas Kaur
Email address:
Thesis title:
Towards an Anthropology of Coups in Fiji.
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors


I am a former PR Consultant, and have served as Executive Committee Co-Chair of the LSE-based Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN), and as Assistant Editor/International Advisory Board Member of the journal "Nations and Nationalism". Whilst on fieldwork in Fiji, I worked as an intern with the Citizens' Constitutional Forum as part of the country's NGO Coalition on Human Rights.

PhD Research

My research explores coups and ethnic conflict in Fiji from a (historical) anthropological perspective. It draws on my fieldwork amongst the multi-ethnic inhabitants of Suva, Fiji's capital city, focusing on people's memories of the 1987 and 2000 so-called ethnic coups from the ethnographic present denoted by my presence in Suva between 2002 and 2004. By bringing different ethnographic presents and different ethnic voices into dialogue with one another, I problematise the notion of coups as events that belong to the historical phenomenological archive, and as solely negative and rupturing. The voices of my informants illustrate instead that the coups of the past leak into the present, and are in some ways acted upon and within a future-oriented perspective. Further, coups can be exciting as well as disorientating, opening up new potentialities - for those people who look to settle or build futures outside their perceived homeland (e.g., Indo-FIjian emigration) as much as for the people who see coups as delivering their homeland back to them. The idea of potentiality exists too in examining coups along circulations of being and behaving at individual, inter-personal, inter-ethnic and national levels. By examining the variety of ways in which coups impact the people of Fiji phenomenologically, as well as how they are used to create spaces of resistance to the rhetoric of ethnic conflict, my research suggests that conflict resolution is more appropriately approached not after the event, as it were, or in a post-conflict landscape, but in the ways that people subvert conflict narratives in the midst of experiences like coups. My ethnography of coups in the apparently fragile multi-ethnic state of Fiji can therefore be extrapolated to other conflict societies, as well as orienting us towards a new anthropology of coups.



  • “How Fijian dictaror Bainimarama finally earned his mandate”. The Conversation. 18th September 2014.
  • "Fiji’s 17th September elections". Monocle24. 17th September 2014. (from 18mins)


  • “Fiji: Bainimarama steps down, but military still waits in wings”. The Lowy Institute: The Interpreter. 7th March 2014.

Book reviews

  • Listening on the Edge: Oral History in the Aftermath of Crisis edited by Mark Cave and Stephen M. Sloan. LSE Review of Books.
  • India: Political Ideas and the Making of a Democratic Discourse by Gurpreet Mahajan. LSE Review of Books.


  • “Culture, conflict and coups in Fiji: the politics and affect of ethnicity”. Anthropology in London Conference, University College London (London), 24th June 2014.
  • “Navigating the ethnic conflict paradigm: how to be a British Indian researcher in Fiji”. Royal Anthropological Institute Post-Graduate Conference, Brunel University (London), 3rd-4th September 2014.
  • “The fieldworker as internal other: reflections on being British Indian in Fiji after the 2000 coup”. Migrant Cross-Cultural Encounters Conference, University of Otago (New Zealand), 24th-26th November 2014 (forthcoming).
  • “TBC”. Austronesian Research Seminar, London School of Economics (London), 4th December 2014.
  • "Towards an anthropology of coups". Royal Anthropological Institute Seminar (London). 13th March 2015.
  • "Re-imagining 'ethnic' coups in Fiji: problematising narratives of rupture". ASA. 13th-16th April 2015.


  • European Society for Oceanists, Melanesia Research Seminar.