Indigenous reconciliation games: Selling Australian football as the new game to the new South Africa

Barry Judd, Christopher Hallinan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Purpose: We investigated recent efforts of the Australian Football League (AFL) to reintroduce the sport of Australian Football to post-Apartheid South Africa. The chapter adopts a critical approach exploring the difference between the rhetoric of reconciliation and its use as a commercial marketing tool and other agendas that may be at play in international expansion.

Design/methodology/approach: The discussion and research findings outlined in this chapter are based on extensive tape-recorded interviews with Anglo-Australian advocates, African converts and Indigenous Australian critics of the claim to reconciliation as well as field notes collected during the time of visits to Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa and Alice Springs, Australia.

Findings: Key themes to emerge from the interviews are presented, cohering around issues of identity, as well as personal and community empowerment through sport, together with the claimed uniqueness of Australian Football to achieve reconciliation in Australia and international contexts such as South Africa.

Research limitations/implications: The limitations of using an ethnographic approach are indicated. This research draws on the qualitative and self-reflective approaches that are characteristic of contemporary indigenous studies where the emphasis is on attempts to allow indigenous people and other marginal voices to speak for themselves.

Originality/value: The chapter provides the first scholarly engagement with the expansion of Australian Football in the new South Africa in the context of the politics of indigenous reconciliation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNative Games
Subtitle of host publicationIndigenous Peoples and Sports in the Post-Colonial World Research in the Sociology of Sport
EditorsChris Hallinan, Barry Judd
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78190-592-0
ISBN (Print)978-1-78190-591-3
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameResearch in the Sociology of Sport
PublisherEmerald Insight
ISSN (Print)1476-2854


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