Re-framing Rio: The Re-appropriation of Utopic National Fantasies (Brazilian Studies Association Conference) (2018)


The Olympics Games — at least since they were first televised, and arguably with a longer history — have operated as a highly affective, and extremely public, political, pedagogic, corporate and powerful media spectacle which defines the parameters of the ‘sanctioned’ nation, its citizenry, and (geo)politics. These very particular, ‘narratives of nation’ told through the mediation of Rio 2016 provide the watching world with the destination position (albeit ephemeral) assembled by a multitude of state and non-state actors. These are extremely ‘popular’ — in Stuart Hall’s use of the word — and potent spaces for various invocations of (supra)national performance, that focus on specific, preferred, narratives. These narratives are glocal and palatable versions of city/nation that aim to attract investment and tourists, at the same time re-shaping the city’s image to legitimate the political and economic trajectories of neoliberalism played out at national/transnational scales. Thus, such utopic national fantasies often simplify, amplify, (de)politicalize, and (re)invent nation, readily reflect and reproduce social hierarchies, and offer particular constructions of the character, culture and the historical trajectory of people—constructions that by their very nature are acts of inclusion and exclusion. In this paper, our focus is on the ways in which these preferred national narratives were re-appropriated by the British media. Through analysis of television and newspaper coverage, we address how certain narratives — of metropolis, environment, empowerment, politics, protest, legacy — are reframed/recoded through a Western lens. In so doing, we shed light on the complexities of mediation, of preferred narratives of nation, of global reach, and ultimately, how an international response to Rio 2016 has reinforced or challenged preferred destination positioning.

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Citation: Silk, M. & Hubbard, P. (July 2018). “Re-framing Rio: The Re-appropriation of Utopic National Fantasies” to be presented on “(Re)Presenting, Embodying & Consuming Rio de Janeiro: Narratives of Nation and the 2016 Olympic Games” panel organized for the Brazilian Studies Association Conference (BRASA) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.