The Middle is a collection of extracts and quotations of the identity descriptors half-caste, Part-European and kailoma from the 19th century to the present day. These words have been used to label the descendants of the early European settlers and indigenous Fijian women.
By documenting the use of these words from a wide array of materials including books, journals, diaries, newspapers, and government and historical documents, artist and researcher Dulcie Stewart hopes to map and understand the complex narratives of mixed heritage and identity in post-colonial Fiji. Over time, even more material will be added to this archive so please keep coming back.
Brisbane based Dulcie Stewart is a library technician by profession and is also an artist, blogger, and family historian specialising in Fiji research, covering European contact prior to cession (1800–1874).
As an artist and family historian, she is interested in identity and the notions of place, home and belonging. She wants to explore mixed race stories, document the undocumented and make archival material accessible.
Growing up in Fiji, Dulcie was often identified as either a part-European, a kailoma, half-caste, part-Chinese, a General voter, an Other. She has Fijian (vasu Bua, Kadavu, Rewa and Bau), Danish, Spanish, Filipino, American, Irish, English, and Chinese ancestry. Dulcie’s non-Fijian ancestors arrived in Fiji between 1808 and the 1930s.
This mixed heritage has influenced Dulcie’s arts practice. Her works have tried to understand, embrace, accept and acknowledge her “otherness”. She examines her journey as a minority, and the experiences of migration and diaspora.
diaspora – a group of people who live outside the area in which they had lived for a long time or in which their ancestors live.
General voter – the voting system in Fiji (pre-coup d’état 2006) was based on ethnicity. People voted according to race, either as an indigenous Fijian or Indo-Fijian. The ‘others’ were bunched together as General Voters. This included ethnic minorities, such as European, Chinese, Banaban Islanders, as well as multiracial people.
kailoma – in a colonial context it meant someone of mixed European/Fijian ancestry. Translated it means to belong in the middle.
vasu – Fijian maternal links.