Is the "world game" an "ethnic game" or an "Aussie game"? Narrating the nation in Australian soccer

Publication Title

American Ethnologist

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Department or Program


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Australia, Ethnicity, Multiculturalism, Nationalism, Soccer


Through an analysis of recent developments in Australian soccer, I extend Homi Bhabha's work on the nation as a problem of narration in two principal ways. I demonstrate that sport, like literature, is a fertile site for narrating the nation. I also illustrate the value of moving beyond the exclusive study of national narratives to the study of ethnic and transnational narratives as well in order to understand more fully the role of narrative in the construction of identities in an increasingly globalized world. Specifically, I argue that the ambivalence and the power of the nation as narrative is what enables people involved in Australian soccer to use different narratives of the Australian nation - narratives of ethnic nationalism, multiculturalism, and cultural hybridity - to serve their own political and economic interests.

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