UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Missionary analogues : the descriptive analysis of a development aid program in Fiji Peck, Pamela J.


The thesis provides a descriptive analysis of a development aid program in Fiji. There are two dimensions to the inquiry. First, the rural development scheme is acknowledged to be about Fijians, about what they take to be their traditional culture and about their response to a program of planned social change. At the same time, the aid program is set within the framework of an international voluntary agency. Hence, the study is also about Europeans and their culture and about their participation in a program of cross-cultural development aid. Moreover, the problem is viewed in historical perspective and from that vantage point the current phase of international voluntary development is seen as a secularized version of the missionization of Fiji more than a century ago. The thesis traces the parallelism between Christianization and world development as a central theme. The thesis consists of three major Parts: the Phenomenology of Tradition, the Phenomenology of Development and the Phenomenology of Change. Within each of these categories, the analysis progresses from a discussion of the epiphenomena to the phenomena to phenomenology. These three Parts of the thesis are preceded by two chapters in Part I which provide a description of the problem and the method and of the people and the setting and are concluded by a single chapter in Part V which summarizes the argument and conclusions. In Part II of the study, I explore the Fijian rendering of na i tovo vakaviti ("the Fijian way of life") as a framework within which to examine the missionary input on the one hand and the international development program on the other. Through an analysis of activities and ideas relating to one's duty to kin, one's duty to chief and one's duty to God, I determine that there are two sets of interrelated institutions existing within the current i tovo vakaviti. I argue that one set of institutions refers to a pre-contact Fijian culture while the second set belongs to a post-contact Fiji. When these latter structures are placed in historical perspective, they are seen to refer to the missionization of Fiji and its colonization by the culture which the missionaries represented. Taking the analysis to a further level of abstraction, it is argued that the model of the moral man predicated on the missionary goal is inconsistent with that of the pre-contact i tovo vakaviti. In the areas of economy, polity and religion, the missionary emerges as a transformer of the traditional Fijian culture. Part III of the study is concerned with a descriptive analysis of the rural development scheme. After examining its major program objectives of encouraging commercial agriculture, the development of leadership potential, and "enhancing the quality of life", I proceed to an analysis of the underlying structures. And that investigation, taking an historical perspective, once again lends itself to an inquiry into two sets of interrelated institutions. The first set pertains to Christianization while the latter refers to world development. While the former is seen as precursor to the latter, both sets are shown to share common structural features, namely, unrestricted exchange, participatory democracy and institutionalized individuality. Continuing the analysis at a third level of abstraction, I provide a model of the moral man consistent with the missionization and development goal. Like his missionary predecessor, then, the European development agent emerges as a transformer of the traditional culture. In Part IV of the study, the emphasis is on the implementation of the YMCA rural work program as a relationship between the international development agency and the recipient community through the rural worker as native agent. Investigation of two community development schemes within the program reveals that what at first glance appear to be dissimilar approaches are, at the same time, a response to the same underlying phenomena. Both the rural worker who appears to be in agreement with the traditional culture and the one who appears to be in opposition to it are, in fact, similarly called upon to stand beyond culture and to change it. The native agent, like the missionary and the development agent, emerges as a transformer of culture. Hence, in the areas of economy, polity and religion, the development aid program is seen as analogous to the missionization of Fiji.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.