Ellis, Cath (2012) The possessive logic of settler‐invader nations in Olympic ceremonies. Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change. pp. 1-19. ISSN 1476-6825

Staging Olympic Games offers hosts a unique opportunity to showcase their nation as a tourist destination. This opportunity is particularly exploited in the opening and closing ceremonies that are able to attract unparalleled international television audiences. Over the first 11 decades or so of the modern Olympic movement, as the ceremonies have become more complex and spectacular, they have developed their own generic conventions of national storytelling. Therefore, it is possible to compare prevailing national ideologies in these ceremonies and ascertain how and where shifts and changes in them are taking place. In this paper, I analyse the opening and closing ceremonies of the 13 Summer and Winter Olympic Games that have been hosted in nations that were formerly part of the British Empire (the USA, Australia and Canada). I analyse the similarities and differences of these ceremonies in order to better understand the discursive construction of settler‐invader national stories that is going on within them. I focus on three aspects: who has the right to welcome visitors, how a discourse of ‘unity in diversity’ is mobilised and how the historical fact of violent dispossession is managed. Informed by the work of Aileen Moreton-Robinson, I propose that these ceremonies can be read as manifestations of the possessive logic of patriarchal white sovereignty and, as such, that the changes that occur from one to the next tell us a great deal about how settler‐invader nations successfully manage Indigenous challenges to the legitimacy of their national stories.


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