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A state of excitement: Western Australia and the America's cup

Hartley, J. (1988) A state of excitement: Western Australia and the America's cup. Cultural Studies, 2 (1). pp. 117-126.

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The familiar radical slogan is: Think Globally; Act Locally. This advice was not so much subverted as inverted during the 1986–7 America's Cup in Western Australia — the trick was to act globally but think locally.

The Cup, an event induced by media, attracting 2,000 visiting journalists and creating a new meaning for Western Australia in the eyes of the world's television, generated more than euphoric images of Australia, sport, and leisure for American tourists. It provoked, within the host community, an unwonted but sustained bout of self-reflexivity and utopianism. It became the mechanism — or rather the practice — through which questions of national (or quasi-national) identity and signification could be thought through; it was a race against time, space, and structure.

What follows can be read as a review of some aspects of an exotic local event; equally, however, it can be seen as an account of an increasingly international cultural/political phenomenon — the euphoricization of democracy and the mobilization of national unity as a commodity to sell on the open market of the consciousness industries within a global economy of commodified meaning.

Within this economy, the distinctions between texts and contexts disappear; the bodies and actions of the people involved (which is everybody) are textualized into a cultural practice of competitive performance: to put the local on show for the global — to act globally.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
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