Abstract: This article examines postcolonial race politics and the re-centering of embodied whiteness and mediated white bodies as constituted through "white flight" and the so-called browning of rugby in New Zealand. Previous studies have problematized the ways in which rugby union is often framed within the national imaginary as a culturally unifying space—commonly depicted as transcendent of New Zealand's postcolonial racial tensions. Here we extend these critiques by pointing to several themes that have recently emerged within popular sports media, namely, those that position male Māori and Pacific Islander bodies as a threat to the well-being of the national game and the national identities it authorizes, and those that locate the Pākehā (white) male sporting body as under duress, or made vulnerable, by the brown-bodied, interloping "Other." The article concludes with a discussion of how these popular representations of racialized rugby-playing bodies, in the age of global mobility and national multiculturalism, articulate to and within foundational (white) national myths of white-settler meritocracy, rurality, and coloniality.
The Contemporary Pacific – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Aug 1, 2012