How do ordinary people respond when their lives are irrevocably
altered by terror and violence? Susanna Trnka was residing in an
Indo-Fijian village in the year 2000 during the Fijian
nationalist coup. The overthrow of the elected multiethnic party
led to six months of nationalist aggression, much of which was
directed toward Indo-Fijians.
In State of Suffering, Trnka shows how Indo-Fijians' lives were
overturned as waves of turmoil and destruction swept across Fiji.
Describing the myriad social processes through which violence is
articulated and ascribed meaning-including expressions of
incredulity, circulation of rumors, narratives, and exchanges of
laughter and jokes-Trnka reveals the ways in which the community
engages in these practices as individuals experience, and try to
understand, the consequences of the coup. She then considers
different kinds of pain caused by political chaos and social
turbulence, including pain resulting from bodily harm, shared
terror, and the distress precipitated by economic crisis and
Throughout this book, Trnka focuses on the collective social
process through which violence is embodied, articulated, and
silenced by those it targets. Her sensitive ethnography is a
valuable addition to the global conversation about the impact of
political violence on community life.