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adelaide oval Arrow vol 2 no 1 contents
About borderlands Volume 2 Number 1, 2003

Adelaide Oval: a postcolonial ‘site’?

Steve Hemming & Daryle Rigney
Flinders University

International sporting competitions are some of the most significant locations of international contact and are sites for the generation of identities for local, regional and national consumption, while simultaneously being a locus for representing nations and communities to the global audience.

John Nauright (1997: 191)

1. This paper emerges from an investigation of the Indigenous cultural significance of Adelaide Oval conducted for the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) and the City of Adelaide as part of a broader Adelaide Oval Conservation Plan Review 2001 (see Hemming & Rigney 2001, Swanbury Penglase 2001). We argue that one of Adelaide Oval’s primary cultural significances for Indigenous people lies in its ongoing colonisation of Indigenous space, both physically, and through the production of powerful sporting narratives of Australian identity and nationhood. These narratives exclude Indigenous knowledges and most importantly marginalise the histories of invasion, dispossession and oppression that have emerged comparatively recently in Australian national histories.

2. The assessment of the cultural heritage significance of contemporary ‘spaces’ or ‘sites’ is a complex process. Cultural ‘sites’ often produce a range of competing meanings with the dominant ones reflecting existing power relations. Identifying these complex relations of power should be crucial in planning the ongoing function and preservation of these significant ‘sites’. Sometimes the dominant meanings produced at a site can oppress particular groups. This is often the case in a settler-nation such as Australia where dominant institutions such as sport continue to be colonising and colonial in character.

3. Adelaide Oval functions as a powerful symbol of colonisation. It is a public space and public icon with local, national and international audiences and ‘owners’ – it is a transnational, colonial and colonising ‘site’. As a high-profile public space, the oval does not recognise Indigenous culture, history and contemporary realities. The absence of Indigenous symbols and presences is a powerful act of continuing dispossession and colonisation. We proposed that any plan for redevelopment of the oval should not only seek to preserve key aspects of its colonial character, but also set out to destabilize, modify and renovate them. Through tactical interventions in the dominant discourses operating at the oval and modifications to its physical, sporting space, Adelaide Oval could become an important site of reconciliation. It remains to be seen whether the redevelopment incorporates any of our recommendations.


4. Sport is an industry, a set of social, cultural and economic relations, and a site for the exercise of different kinds of power relations. Exploring sport means asking questions about the nature, practice and organisation of sport and its relationship to power (Jarvie 1985, Jarvie 1991, Sage 1990, Rigney 1999). The ‘spaces’ sport occupies, in a real and metaphorical sense, have had researchers focussing upon the ‘sports site’ as an instrument for ‘cultural suppression and cultural hegemony on the one hand and cultural regeneration and cultural survival on the other’ (Birrell 1989: 219). In the context of the practice of heritage assessment, we are interested in disturbing the powerful colonising discourses that operate at sporting spaces such as the world-famous Adelaide Oval. At most high-profile Australian sporting ‘sites’ Indigenous knowledges often appear to be erased by sporting discourses and the cultural landscape is re-written with the stories of Australian sporting heroics and new national histories. These stories obscure signs of Indigenous presence in places such as the City of Adelaide and effectively exclude even a hint of the destructive history of race relations in ‘settler’ Australia.

5. Adelaide Oval is arguably the best known public space in South Australia with its transnational, global audience linked through the sporting culture of cricket (see Whimpress & Hart 1984, Brown & Taylor 1991). The cricketing culture at the oval produces influential accounts of Adelaide, the Australian nation and more broadly, Australia’s place in a global commonwealth of cricket playing nations. Adelaide Oval is an icon of Australian sporting culture – a tradition that has had a chequered and ambivalent history for Indigenous people. The oval, established in 1871, has from its early years hosted Australian Rules Football in the winter months and there have been some locally famous Indigenous players in this sporting code. This history of Indigenous involvement in football is absent from the Adelaide Oval of cricketing culture and it leaves no trace in the physical fabric of the oval itself – no named grandstands, no monuments, no named gates.

6. For the purposes of this paper we focus our attention on the Adelaide Oval of cricketing culture. The act of engagement in the international game of cricket gives Adelaide, or at least particular representations of Adelaide, a place on the world stage. As historian Graeme Davison (2002: 5) argues national identity is performed in major public sporting spaces to an ‘imaginary grandstand of international spectators’. High-profile sporting spaces such as Adelaide Oval are fundamentally creative cultural sites where meanings are generated within a staged, framed and commodified discursive regime (see Rowe 1999). Powerful tropes of Australian identity inform the narratives of Australian nationhood produced in the sporting space. Adelaide Oval claims one of Australia’s most iconic sporting and national heroes – Sir Donald Bradman – a ‘white’ man who is read by many, including Australian Prime Minister John Howard, as the embodiment of core Australian values. What place does local Indigenous cultural values have in a fundamentally white Australian space such as Adelaide Oval? How can critical readings of historical and contemporary Australian culture find a place on a stage occupied by Australian sporting heroes from the archetypal tradition of British ‘fair play’ – epitomised by cricket? These were the sorts of questions we raised as part of our examination of the Indigenous cultural significance of the ‘site’.

7. Our approach was not expected by the commissioning bodies – SACA and the City of Adelaide. Surveys of Indigenous significance in south-eastern South Australia usually focus on archaeological ‘sites’ or what is constructed as pre-European, ‘traditional’ cultural knowledge such as Dreaming sites (see Byrne 1996, Macdonald 1998, Hemming, Wood & Hunter 2000). It is also usual to provide no place for an analysis of what cultural theorists such as Homi Bhabha (1996) have characterized as the third space. Any discussion of the complexities of race relations at a sporting site such as Adelaide Oval requires creative interventions to provide the space for their consideration. Binary categories such as post-colonial European heritage versus Indigenous heritage characterise most major South Australian heritage surveys, including the Adelaide Oval Conservation Plan 2001 (Swanbury Penglase 2001), and create significant barriers to investigations of historical and continuing colonial relations.

8. Recently there have been small, but important, changes to the cultural landscape surrounding the Adelaide Oval site. These include the establishment of a monument at nearby Piltawodli (the possum place), the recognition of Kaurna ‘prior occupation’ by the Adelaide City Council, the flying of a giant Indigenous flag at Victoria Square, the 2000 Reconciliation March that started outside the Adelaide Oval’s Victor Richardson Gates and the recent Centenary of Federation commemorative football match and corroborees at the oval itself. Many of these changes and ‘radical’ events have been driven by the traditional owners of the Adelaide Plains – the Kaurna people (see Rigney 2002). They have worked hard to establish positive relationships with the non-Indigenous governments and institutions that continue to occupy their lands (see Amery 2000). As we recommended in our report, SACA could embrace these changes in the cultural and political landscapes surrounding the oval and make this central sporting space into an overt reconciliation site. This would mean addressing some of the underlying messages transferred to Australian sporting culture by its imperial British past. Sport as a symbol of progress, civilization and western values (Stoddart 1988, Daly 1994, Tatz 1995).


9. The entrenchment of imperial sporting cultures had their genesis in the mid nineteenth century with the concurrent emergence of modern sport in Britain, the consolidation of racial ideology and the British empire’s dominance as a world power (Mangan 1986, Nauright 1997). British imperial diaspora ensured the appearance of British sports, institutions and administrations that ultimately became the cultural markers for national identity politics in the colonies. The systemic structuring of sporting formations in Australia was supported and maintained by continued connections to the home of the empire, through the establishment of international sporting organisations such as the Imperial Cricket Council (later renamed the International Cricket Council), founded in 1909 by Britain, South Africa and Australia. As pointed out by John Nauright, ‘cricket was the imperial game, the epitome of British culture, morality, manners and racism …’ (Nauright 1997: 26).

10. The colonisation of Australia by imperial Britain therefore resulted in the development of Australian sporting institutions and practices which largely mirrored that of the ‘mother country’. Adelaide Oval is framed by one of the dominant ‘tropes’ of Australian identity – Australia as a new Britannia. Andrew Milner (1994: 223) argues that ‘these colonies of European settlement were imagined precisely as overseas extensions of Europe itself, as ‘Self’ rather than ‘Other’, as new Britannias all’.

11. Adelaide Oval is part of a colonising, international network of sports sites that reinforce a sense of British, Commonwealth culture. Established in 1871, it remains a symbol of British colonial culture (see Brown & Taylor 1991). It stands for progress, civilization and the systematisation of sports and the importance of the rule of law. As a symbol of the colonial nature of Australian society the oval has, however, for many Adelaidians, lost its original significance. Its colonisation of the place that it occupies on the Adelaide Plains has been so successful that the politics and history of invasion and dispossession have been subsumed by the popular and pervasive stories of a new Australian nation built on its successes on the sporting field. Today, from a critical perspective, it stands as a symbol of appropriated Indigenous space that reproduces the denial of the history of dispossession, genocide/indigenocide (Evans & Thorpe 2001) and oppression which makes its existence on the Adelaide Plains near Tandanyungga (the place of the Red Kangaroo Dreaming).

12. Indigenous voices, images and understandings are absent from the discourse of the civic sporting culture of Adelaide Oval and thus have little opportunity to problematise the powerful ‘normalising’ characterisation of sport as apolitical and good for race relations (Hartmann 1996, Bruce & Hallinan 2000). The homogenisation and sanitation of cultural identities through sporting cultures rely upon the universalisation of history where potentially shameful moments are suppressed and in "the rush to demonstrate ‘newness’ and harmony, history disappears leaving us with little more than a ‘white’s own’ voyeuristic view of ‘native’ culture" (Nauright 1997:189). The same can be said for the relationship between history, Indigenous ‘culture’ and the heritage industry (Davison 1991:6).

13. There are many Adelaide Ovals, many audiences and many representations. In cricketing culture the oval has a coded set of descriptors that make it Adelaide. For cricketing fans around the world it is framed by the cathedral, the River Torrens and the Adelaide Hills. It is made up of the ‘hallowed’ turf, named stands, press boxes, the score board and gates named after local cricketing heroes. It is invariably described as one of the most beautiful ovals in the world. Within this context Adelaide Oval is an influential and productive cultural space and is not an example of ‘legacy’ as disconnected from the contemporary setting of the ‘site’. In heritage discourse the significance of an important ‘site’ or building is often understood in terms of past cultural significances and through the concept of legacy (see Davison 1994, Lowenthal 1998). Adelaide Oval’s colonial legacy needs to be recognised as continuing in the present – it is still a colonial site. Our paper, therefore, seeks to write Indigenous peoples into the contemporary landscape of the oval and in so doing specifies the relations between place, politics and identity in order to suggest strategies for inclusivity and resistance.

14. This leads us to an assessment of the power of a transnational ‘site’ such as Adelaide Oval in shaping, local, national and international understandings of the cultural and political landscape within which the ‘site’ is located. The media representations of Adelaide Oval become the ‘real’ for all but the crowds at the ground. Adelaide Oval becomes a complex of hyper-sites (Baudrillard 1994) located on the television screens of fans around the world, framed and interpreted through their local traditions, but symbolising an archetypal British, cricketing oval located in Adelaide – a city of churches, parks, well-planned streets and Victorian architecture. The total absence of Indigenous voices, images, and understandings, coupled with the pervasive ‘normalising’ discourse of cricket, makes this Adelaide Oval what could perhaps be termed a hyper-colonial site. The physical Adelaide Oval and its hyper-real, emblematic companions continue the process of colonisation of local Indigenous people and have a significant impact on Indigenous interests nationally.

15. Sporting narratives and heritage narratives are brought together in an iconic space such as the oval. A double effect is produced as two of the most pervasive western discourses join forces to produce ‘histories’ of Australia that mask the political and social realities for many Indigenous people (see Lowenthal 1998). Tactical interventions in this complex space are crucial if the links between dispossession and contemporary inequities are to be understood and accepted. Adelaide Oval is part of the colonial architecture of the city of Adelaide that needs to be conceptually dismantled. Publicly telling a different story of Tarndanyungga is an important start in this renovation process.


16. Adelaide Oval is located on a place where Kaurna people celebrated life through public ceremonies, games, religious observances and other social activities (Hemming 2001). Visitors to Kaurna lands witnessed and participated in public events in this area on the northern banks of the Karra Wirra Parri (River Torrens) (Day 1902, Cawthorne 1926, Hemming 1999). After the arrival of Europeans and before Adelaide Oval was established, the Kaurna and other Indigenous groups continued their traditions of public performance in this space (Parsons 1997).

17. With the establishment of the oval as a colonial ‘public’ sporting venue, the control of this public space was completely taken out of the hands of Indigenous people. In 1885, however, Indigenous people staged several public performances or corroborees at the oval. These corroborees, staged for a white audience, attracted the largest crowds of the nineteenth century to the Adelaide Oval venue – about 20,000 people attended one performance (Parsons 1997, Whimpress n.d.). The non-Indigenous audience wanted to see the exotic and almost extinct ‘other’ – controlled in the new British public space of the oval. In the twentieth century there appear to have been no large-scale Indigenous performances on the oval. Recently, however, as part of the 2001 centenary of Federation, a football match between Indigenous and non-Indigenous players and a series of performances (including corroborees) was organised. The crowd was predominantly Indigenous, and for local Kaurna people this was an important opportunity to affirm their ‘rights’ to the Adelaide Oval space. Other Indigenous groups performed and each formally recognised the traditional owners of the land on which they were performing.

18. For Indigenous people such as the Kaurna, the term postcolonial can be a problematic label serving to mask the ongoing colonial nature of the institutions that continue to occupy their country. Inherent difficulties arise in assessing Australian and Indigenous histories as postcolonial, as a form of historical closure, when there is continued struggle over issues of spirituality, culture, identity and land. Jane Jacobs in Edge of Empire: Postcolonialism and the city, provides the following description of Australia as a nation:

Australia, then, is the sort of nation that may be visioned as postcolonial by some but feels decidedly colonial to others. It is the type of ex-colonial territory that points to the formal limits of the historical condition called postcolonialism and the fantastic optimism of the ‘post’ in postcolonialism (Jacobs 1996: 23-24).

19. Settler-states such as Australia have an ambiguous relationship with the colonial (see Gelder & Jacobs 1997, Thorpe 1996, Young 2001). The terms internal colonialism and welfare colonialism have been used by some writers to describe the relationship between Indigenous people and the State (see Peterson & Sanders 1998, Young 2001). Given that in Australia there are arguably many indigenous ‘nations’ then it is seems sensible to speak of the relationships between Indigenous people and the State on a group-by-group and case-by-case basis.

20. For Kaurna people the Adelaide Plains was invaded by the British in 1836. The City of Adelaide was established and the same City of Adelaide runs the place that Kaurna people know as Tarndanyungga (the central city area). Some senior Kaurna elders spent time in their childhood with Kaurna people who experienced the first years of invasion and dispossession (Gara 1990). The Adelaide plains have not been de-colonised, many of the same non-Indigenous families control the key ‘sites’ of power. They have obtained their positions of authority through initial land ‘theft’ - through the colonisation of the lands of groups such as the Kaurna people. Some of this story has been told in recent Australian histories at a state and national level (see Mattingley & Hampton 1988). But its application to spaces such as capital cities, to the fortunes of major businesses, powerful families and iconic sites such as Adelaide Oval, is less well-known. Some local histories and ‘sites’ are beginning to recognise Kaurna existence – often seen as part of the past but most recently as part of a contemporary creative force. The 2002 Adelaide Festival of Arts identified as a center-piece a recognition of Kaurna survival and contemporary creativity.

22. Today the ‘owners’ of Adelaide Oval are local, state-wide, national and international. They are largely non-Indigenous and ‘own’ the space and its meanings through discourses such as sport, heritage, business and nationality identity. They are sporting bodies, sports-persons, spectators, governments and companies providing sponsorship. Within this complex nexus of interests Indigenous people find a small, but virtually powerless place as part of the local.

23. A native title claim has recently been lodged over the Adelaide Plains. The issue of native title raises some questions for the non-Indigenous ‘owners’ of Adelaide Oval, but does not provide a mechanism for the de-colonisation of the Adelaide Oval ‘site’. It may serve as a point of focus for re-making Adelaide Oval into a site of reconciliation. This does not lead to a reclamation of the ‘site’ by Kaurna people, but brings into existence a more public recognition of survival in the urban space.

24. For the Kaurna the oval remains a colonised and colonising space. It embodies ownership and control – the domination of cultural practice through sporting culture and media practices. The colonising narratives produced at the ‘site’ are framed by a broader commonwealth cricketing culture. Heroic stories of Australian nationhood are produced at sporting sites such as the oval. These narratives exclude the harsher social, political and racial realities of Australia’s past and present.


25. In the colonial project the generalisation and reification of Eurocentric understandings dominate the Adelaide Oval’s frames of reference. Simultaneously such discourses naturalise the ‘silenced spatiality’ of Indigenous narrative history of the Adelaide Oval site. Our project then must be to connect Indigenous knowledges to Adelaide Oval and to empower an Indigenous reading of the space to enrich its diasporic politics. In other words Adelaide Oval as a ‘new space of resistance’ needs location within the Indigenous struggle for the revisioning of counter-hegemonic cultural practice.

26. Frederic Jameson (1991) in speaking to the need for alternative views of space and political action argues for an approach which allows people to become aware of their own position in the world and the resources to resist and make their own history. The ‘cognitive mapping’ of spaces allows oppositional cultures to emerge so that ‘new social movements’ are able to capture the space for their interests against the interests of the dominant. Reading the space as a backdrop to potential political action though is problematic. Edward Soja (1989) makes the point that space is dialectical. It operates in two distinct ways between the desire for separation and the desire for closeness and thus is not merely a backdrop but is integral to politics and ideology. In seeking to move Jameson’s theorising beyond positionality, and into the dynamism of a continuing making and remaking of knowledges connected with space, Soja allows us to move beyond the notion of legacy and into the practice of possibility as sites are re-conceptualised (Soja, 1989:75). A notion of the ‘local’ is required in this discussion that enables an Indigenous politics of location that seeks to avoids the dangers of essentialising discourses of identity, but values experience and local knowledge (see Wuthnow 2002).

27. What is required in sport therefore is an alternative discourse to the ‘normalising’ conformity between sport culture and liberal democratic ideology. The search for a discourse that seeks to represent the partiality of knowledge necessarily requires the exploration of the politics of space while seeking to confront and disrupt the politics of place and the place of politics. The alternative is to be immersed in a "global white culture of sport" that is "totalizing … through its notions of apoliticality". (Nauright, 1997:190) In this dialogue Indigenous people are consigned to representations that never speak to resistance and struggle but focus upon Indigenous exoticism over oppression thus serving the maintenance of existing power structures of current global order. The packaging of Aboriginality in this manner potentially brands Indigenous Australians as reconciliation gimmicks if it only sends the message of ‘paintin and dancin’ and excludes the realities of the full Indigenous experience connected to the Adelaide Oval space (Godwell 1999). In other words sporting spaces such as the Adelaide Oval cannot be dealt with as though they are merely passive and abstract arenas on which events occur.

28. There is a danger in exoticising specific elements of Indigenous culture for celebration at the Adelaide Oval site. As Franz Fanon (1967: 167) has argued the past can become a new space of colonisation:

Colonialism is not satisfied merely with hiding a people in its grip and emptying the native’s brain of all form and content. By a kind of perverted logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures and destroys it.

29. Essentialising a romantic ideal of Kaurna culture may serve to place the Indigenous significance of Adelaide Oval in the past. This should be avoided through a more active dialogue with Indigenous interests enabling an ongoing and creative Indigenous relationship with the space. The recognition of the colonial nature of Australian race relations and and a serious attempt to include Adelaide Oval in the reconciliation process could help to achieve this goal. Staging re-enactments of nineteenth century football matches and corroborees provide Indigenous people with the opportunity to legitimise their links with previously alienated spaces such as the oval. There is also opportunities to reflect on the historical character of South Australian race relations through the re-enactment of ‘inter-racial’ sporting contests.

30. Of critical importance to Indigenous people, in understanding that there are multiple positions associated with any space, is that their place in that space is fundamentally important to them, to their perspective, to their location in the world and to their right and ability to challenge dominant discourses of power. By understanding that the Adelaide Oval space connects with a social, cultural and political world we are suggesting a more complex relationship between the imagined ‘real’ of dominant discourse and the Indigenous so-called past and ‘imagined’ understandings of the site. As Keith and Pile argue, "one does not merely cover the other; one is not more real than the other" (Keith & Pile, 1993:9). Indeed how can the authentic be authenticated? Who is to authenticate the connections to the Adelaide Oval site? Whose knowledge of the Adelaide Oval space and its meaning(s) are the real, the imaginary and the symbolic? Here we have the identity politics of place and the spatialised politics of identity.

31. Michel de Certeau’s (1984) poetic examination of acts of tactical resistance in everyday life can provide a guide to our interventions in a dominating, urban public space. De Certeau is interested in the subversive practice of walking. Walking has been a central act in the recent reconciliation movement in Australia. We argue that our tactical intervention in the sporting space of Adelaide Oval is revolutionary in its engagement, through the practice of heritage assessment, with a high-profile ‘white’ sporting space. A revolutionary act, a counter-hegemonic tactical intervention in a cultural heritage, sporting space; a space that is understood by some as part of our ‘national legacy’, but can also be productive and positive for a broad set of interests. Our report to the South Australian Cricket Association can be understood as an attempt to move the discourse of reconciliation a few steps further into the transnational sporting arena of Adelaide Oval, destabilising its hyper-colonial character.


32. Robert Young (2000) traces the links between the politics of anti-colonialism and the emergence of post-structural and postcolonial theory. What we are proposing is anti-colonial, revolutionary and tactical, drawing on strategies being developed around the ‘grassroots’ reconciliation movement. This is a proposal for a peaceful revolution, conducted through a partnership between ‘postcolonial’ theory and political interests. A revolution at an everyday level that many in Australia argue is needed, and through their participation in the reconciliation movement are searching for spaces in which to tactically intervene in the powerful discourses that continue to shape the colonial nature of the Australian settler-state. The institutions of the urban centre – the Australianised landscapes of the city – should be a focus for these acts of de-construction.

33. Adelaide Oval functions as a powerful, colonising space. We have argued that at one level the oval can be described as a hyper-colonial ‘site’. The City of Adelaide’s identity is prescribed in this space, and along with other cultural sites such as Parliament House and the Governor’s Residence (part of Adelaide’s North Terrace Cultural Precinct), the oval functions as a dominant space of ‘whiteness’.

34. In summary Adelaide Oval is a transnational ‘site’ at the centre of some very powerful, colonialist discourses. As such, Adelaide Oval’s twentieth century heritage, our recent cultural legacy, can be understood in terms of its power to construct and transmit a particular understanding of colonial culture to Adelaide, South Australia, the nation and the world. It is the stories of Australia’s developing nationhood, closeness yet separation from its ‘motherland’ Britain, and heroic deeds of its young men that are told about this place on the northern banks of Karra Wirra Parri. The ongoing colonised history of the space is not part of this story and has been excluded from this public space for so long that few can see its relevance – this is the naturalising power of this transnational, colonising ‘site’. Recent research projects examining the cultural significance of the Adelaide Parklands (driven by Kaurna leadership) and the Adelaide Oval Conservation Review have reminded the colonial institutions – the City of Adelaide and SACA – that their histories of heroic deeds, nation building and ‘settlement’ are not the only stories to be told. These reminders build on the continuing efforts of Kaurna leadership in re-constructing the cultural landscape in the City of Adelaide.

35. Adelaide Oval has indigenous cultural significance as part of Kaurna land, as a continuing colonising ‘site’, and as a central symbol of South Australian race relations in sport. For Indigenous people Adelaide Oval provides a powerful cultural space for the contestation and transformation of stereotypes fundamental to the existing state of race relations in Australian society. This cultural significance needs to be recognised for Indigenous people to gain access to the national and international audiences now associated with Adelaide Oval - one of the most important sporting grounds in the world. Small changes such as the recent dual naming of the British-named River Torrens with one of its original Kaurna names - Karra Wirra Parri (the River Redgum river) – may prompt cricket commentators into remarking that the bowler is coming in from the Karra Wirra Parri end. Imagine the questions raised by a seemingly minor language act such as this.

36. For Indigenous people a cultural arena like sport necessarily requires the destabilisation of dominant discourses so that from other standpoints inclusive pictures can begin to be developed. In the context of Adelaide Oval the telling of a story entrenched in the circle of socially produced Eurocentric knowledges needs to be broken. This does not mean that non-Indigenous experiences are meaningless rather it means that we should not rely upon non-Indigenous experiences and ideas as the only truth. There are many stories to be told in the production of knowledge and one of the largest exclusions at Adelaide Oval are Indigenous stories. The potential fore-grounding of Indigenous knowledges of the Adelaide Oval site requires negotiating with Indigenous people since this is the level of oppression which needs to be addressed if the conceptualisation of reconciliation is to have meaning.

37. Given sport’s fundamental cultural significance in Australian society, the power of a public space such as Adelaide Oval in shaping race relations, and as a potential force for reconciliation, should not be underestimated. As already stated, for reconciliation to occur through sport, it requires recognition, acknowledgment and acceptance of the responsibility to make concerted efforts to represent the Indigenous cultural significance of public spaces such as Adelaide Oval to national and international audiences. This includes recognition of the harsh historical and contemporary realities for Indigenous people in Australia. The Adelaide Oval should be a public space where Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples are central to, and share the responsibility for, bringing people together in ways which challenge and transform negative ‘race relations’ (Rigney, 1997).

Steve Hemming is a lecturer in Australian Studies at Flinders University. He has taught Indigenous Studies at the Unversity of South Australia and was a curator in the South Australian Museum's Division of Anthropology for fifteen years. He is currently researching the relationship between heritage, native title and colonialism. Email:

Daryle Rigney is a Ngarrindjeri man. He is the Director of Yunggorendi, First Nations Centre for Higher Education and Research, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia. Email:


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