‘If It Weren't for Rugby I'd be in Prison Now': Pacific Islanders, Rugby and the Production of (un)Natural Spaces

Friday, July 18, 2014: 12:00 AM
Room: 412
Oral Presentation
Brent MCDONALD , College of Sport and Exercise Science, Victoria University, Australia
Drawing on research conducted with Pacific Island men, this paper considers the ways in which rugby becomes a legitimate space, both for the confirmation of Pacific Island identity and the demonstration of successful integration into 21st Century, multicultural Australia. However, in positioning neo-liberalism as the reengineering, rather than the deregulation, of the state, sports such as rugby enact considerable disciplinary capacity over the bodies of minority ethnicity. The disciplinary logic is underpinned by bio-racism and commodification inherent to the discourse of post-colonial Australia. The overrepresentation of the bodies of Pacific Island men in the rugby codes, in prisons, in security, and in manual labour, suggests the structuring effects of such discourse. Such effects shape the legitimacy of access to physical spaces and also to the range of agency that Pacific Islanders’ enact. Of specific interest to this paper are the ways in which spaces, and the means to occupy them, become naturalized. This naturalization serves to obscure the actual regulating and exploitative function of such sports, instead positing them as exemplars of individualism and self-governance.