Publication Type: Blog
Countries: Fiji Global
Authors: Jastinder Kaur
Funders: ERC

In this article Jastinder Kaur poses the question: – when is a coup a coup? She reflects anthropologically on coups as a significant way of doing politics, given that there have been more than 200 coups in 95 countries over the last 75 years. In relation to the so-called ‘culture of coups’ in the South Pacific archipelago of Fiji, Stewart Firth and Jon Fraenkel (2007) observe that coups have become one of two ways of changing government there, a point reiterated by a Fiji MP on the very floor of Parliament in February 2021. By this reckoning, coups embody and entail an imagined difference but are not content to indulge (or indulge in) the rituals and rhythms of the election cycle: as Caroline Humphrey (2019) might argue, they are not always a break from something, but often a break towards something instead. They are impatient forms of political behaviour, refusing to play by the rules of electoral and parliamentary democracy. Yet, even given the predominance of coups globally, we lack a meaningful way of comparing them, beyond identifying common traits and characteristics borrowed from political science – namely, that coups are illegal military takeovers of elected civilian government which interrupt democratic principles, processes, and practices. For full article is available on the Allegra Lab.