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The Role of Maternal and Child Health in Decolonisation in Fiji 1945-1970

Hartley, Sarah C. (2018) The Role of Maternal and Child Health in Decolonisation in Fiji 1945-1970. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis contributes to historical understanding of decolonisation in the British-colonised South Pacific through a detailed case study of the internationalisation of post-war public health. The role that health policy played in colonisation, both in the South Pacific and empire wide, is well understood, but its part in British decolonisation strategies is less known. Through analysing how Britain used maternal and child health policy to shape decolonisation in Fiji this thesis addresses this underexplored question. The negotiations surrounding health policy decisions reveal much about this process at a territorial, intra-colonial, inter-imperial, and international level. At a territorial and intra-colonial level, maternal and child health was entwined in colonial attempts to manage a charged ethno-political situation in Fiji in the run up to independence. At a regional and international level, the new Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) of the World Health Organization (WHO), attempted to disseminate universal rights and norms in health. Britain, and other imperial powers administrating Pacific Islands, perceived WPRO as a threat to their sovereignty over health and development. They established an inter-imperial organisation – the South Pacific Commission (SPC) – partly to demonstrate acquiescence with, but prevent interference by, UN agencies. The SPC and WPRO tried to build institutional prestige through efforts to establish themselves as authorities on maternal and child health. Using under-exploited sources this thesis uses the sub-case studies of maternal and infant nutrition, family planning/population control, and women’s health education, to discuss collaboration and contest between these actors. It demonstrates that conflict over decolonisation, as well as health, created barriers to policy innovation, which were only bridged by interventions by civil society organisations. It shows that colonial health policy shaped decolonisation in Fiji and international health in the region. It highlights the underappreciated role of civil society in colonial and international health.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Related URLs:
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Depositing User: Miss Sarah C. Hartley
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2018 16:28
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2018 16:28
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22294

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