Gesturing Elsewhere and Offshore Memory: Amateur Elite Soccer in the Fiji Islands, 1980–1992

in Sport History Review
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  • 1 University of the West of Scotland
  • | 2 Fiji National University
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This article studies the amateur elite National Soccer League in the Fiji Islands from 1980 to 1992 and the Fiji national team's landmark 1–0 win over Australia in 1988. The authors use the theoretical idea of “gesturing elsewhere,” taken from the work of popular music scholar Emma Baulch, to explain how the local Fiji soccer community receives its meaning and identity largely as the local-outpost or chapter of the global soccer scene. Therefore, a victory over the sporting powerhouse Australia boosts the self-image of the Fiji soccer world by temporarily upturning the established hierarchies. The shock 1988 win saw Fiji assigned extra credibility in the global context. The authors also look at the Indo-Fijian (Fijians of Indian decent) emigrant communities of the West and argue that, through their ongoing love of Fiji soccer, they play a role akin to offshore memory or offshore library, cataloging past history and revering past stars and classic contests.

James is with the School of Business and Enterprise, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, United Kingdom. Nadan is with the Fiji National University, Nasinu, Fiji Islands.

James (Kieran.james99@yahoo.co.uk) is corresponding author.