Brij Lal

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Brij V. Lal is an Indo-Fijian historian. He was born in Labasa, on the northern island of Vanua Levu. He was educated at The University of South Pacific, the University of British Columbia and the Australian National University.

Academic career[edit]

Lal is currently a Professor of Pacific and Asian History at the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies (RSPAS), Australian National University. He has previously lectured at The University of the South Pacific in Suva, the University of Hawaii in Manoa, and at the University of Papua New Guinea. He is also a Visiting Professor at the University of the South Pacific and simultaneously, Head of the Centre for Diasporic Studies at the University of Fiji.

Among his many books are an autobiography, Mr Tulsi's Store: A Fijian Journey (2001), which won the San Francisco-based Kiriyama Prize in 2002. He is also the author of Chalo Jahaji: On a journey through indenture in Fiji (2000) and editor of Bittersweet: The Indo-Fijian Experience (2004),[1] the latter two recounting the history of the trials and triumphs of the Indo-Fijian community. He is the present Editor of the Journal of Pacific History and the Founding Editor of the literary journal, Conversations.

Honours[edit]

On 3 November 2005, it was announced that Lal had been awarded the inaugural Distinguished Pacific Scholar Award by the UNESCO-sponsored International Council for the Study of the Pacific Islands, in recognition of his research into Fijian and Pacific history. He has also written widely about the Indian Diaspora, including the history of indentured service.

Brij V. Lal has been honoured by the Fiji Millennium Committee for distinguished scholarship. He has also been named as one of the seventy people who have helped shape Fiji's history in the 20th century.

Pro-democracy activities[edit]

In the 1990s, Lal served as the nominee of the Leader of the opposition, Jai Ram Reddy on the three-member Constitutional Review Commission, whose work culminated in the adoption of the present constitution in 1997-1998.

Lal condemned the Military coup d'état which deposed the government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase on 5 December 2006. Fiji Live quoted him as saying on 7 December that the coup was not different in essence from the two coups staged by Sitiveni Rabuka in 1987, or George Speight's coup of 2000. This time, however, race was not seen to be a factor, he said, unlike the previous occasions when ethnic issues were used, he claimed, as a scapegoat for other interests.[2]

In November 2009, Lal discussed the ongoing political situation in Fiji after the expulsion of the Australian and New Zealand high commissioners, in an interview with Radio New Zealand. Shortly afterwards he was taken into custody and questioned about his comments. During the questioning, Lal reported that he was subjected to foul language and advised to leave the country within 24 hours, which he did. Lal has subsequently clarified that he was expelled rather than being deported.[3]

References[edit]

External links[edit]