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Sporting Mythscapes, Neoliberal Histories, and Post-Colonial Amnesia in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Andrews (1999) has argued that under conditions of market-based liberalization, the sporting past has increasingly been put to use for the purposes of accumulation. This selectively rendered “sporting historicism,” he argues, results in “a pseudo-authentic historical sensibility, as opposed to a genuinely historically grounded understanding of the past, or indeed the present by rendering history a vast, yet random, archive of events, styles, and icons” (2006). Under such conditions, power-laden and selective “mythscapes” emerge. In this paper, we carry Andrews’ contention forward by arguing that critical sport scholars should further problematize the uses of the sporting mythscape—particularly by calling into question those re-historicizations that emerge in public discourse and excavating whose interests they serve. Here we interrogate the politics of how sporting pasts are mobilized in contemporary Aotearoa/New Zealand; in particular at the conjuncture of a globalized “free-market” economy and fluctuating (post-)colonial identity politics. We point to various cases that help reveal how specters of sporting pasts circulate within national mythologies in selective and politicized ways.