Indians in Natal and Fiji:
A "Controlled Experiment"
in Culture Contact
The South African population of Indian origin, which is largely concentrated in the coastal area of Natal, is already well known through a number of studies. 1 The recent study of an Indian group on the Fiji Islands now offers an opportunity for detailed comparison. 2 Indeed, the near identity of environment, history, and composition of two immigrant communities separated by some nine thousand miles of ocean and without direct contact with each other makes for a situation as close to a large-scale controlled experiment as can be hoped for in the social sciences. At the same time, a few salient differences allow one to isolate relationships that may otherwise have been obscured.
In trying to make the best of this unusual opportunity, we shall apply ex post facto the experimental model to the two situations. 3 The central problem of interest here is the adaptive response of the two immigrant communities to their new social environment. The two cases will thus be treated as an experiment in culture contact, in which structural changes in the Indian groups will be considered as dependent variables. But the experi-____________________