Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy



Collaborative Specialization

Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction


Clark, Samuel

2nd Supervisor

Young, Carl



This dissertation explores the ways in which sovereignty and nationalism are expressed within four small island nations of Oceania. These four nations represent significant variation in the level of sovereignty and types of nationalism. Hawaiʻi, though the largest of the four, remains a part of the United States following the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. An active nationalist movement continues to fight for the end of U.S. occupation. Fiji, whilst legally fully independent, has seen considerable nationalist activity including four coups. Niue and the Cook Islands are in free association with New Zealand. Though independent nations, they have elected to outsource several government functions including foreign affairs and defence to New Zealand. They also maintain a close relationship wherein Niueans and Cook Islanders hold New Zealand citizenship. This unusual relationship tests the bounds of typical models of sovereignty and nationalism. Despite their small size, nationalism is present in all four nations.

Contrary to expectations given the contested status of the three nations and the ethnonationalist struggles Fiji has faced, the fiery and intense version of nationalism known as hot nationalism is mostly historical for these nations. Rather, we see nationalism expressed through taken for granted components of daily life. This phenomenon known as everyday or banal nationalism can be seen across areas that would not typically be considered as nationalist such as food, music, language and sport. Even extremely banal areas such as road naming, airport organisation, and mailing procedures, can serve to remind people of their place in the nation and create or reinforce a national identity.

Sovereignty has been the focus for activists across many modern movements. Though traditionally nationalists have often utilised folk definitions of sovereignty, international law and the legal definitions of sovereignty have become paramount to many modern movements. Nationalists are increasingly using legal theory and academia as tools to gain legitimacy and support for their causes. How nationalism and sovereignty are expressed and contested have changed considerably over the past few decades necessitating the fresh look at nationalism in small island states provided by this study.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.