Australian football as a construct of the frontier contact zone

Robert S V Pascoe, Gerardo Papalia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The real or imagined connections between Indigenous ballgames, especially marngrook, and the sport that evolved into Australian Rules football, remain as contested as ever. We propose to step back from this debate and to re-frame the problem quite differently. The Deleuze and Guattari post-structuralist understanding of the relationship between colonising and colonised peoples provides a convincing meta-narrative of the situation in nineteenth-century south-eastern Australia. Particularly useful are their smooth/striated distinction, their concept of deterritorialization/reterritorialization, the nomad war machine , and their state of becomings-animal/ spiritual . Together, these four crucial conceptualisations illuminate the relationship between settler culture and post-invasion Indigenous culture. Australian football thus arguably emerges as a product of this frontier zone.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 17
Number of pages17
JournalSporting Traditions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Post-structuralist theory
  • Australian football
  • Aboriginal Australians

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