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The illusion of inclusion: Agenda 21 and the commodification of Aboriginal culture in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games

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This article investigates the discourse about Aboriginal people benefitting from the 2010 Olympic Games and argues there was nothing fundamentally new about Aboriginal involvement in Vancouver, except for an unprecedented mobilization of Aboriginal bodies, land and insignia. In this regard, Aboriginal inclusion in 2010 was definitely different from past Games. There were more Aboriginal performers, artists and volunteers, more cultural imagery in strategic locations, and more indigenous merchandise for sale than ever before. Yet, in spite of their increased visibility, the power relations sustaining historic inequities between Olympic organizers and Aboriginal people remained largely unchanged. Indeed, a closer look at how Aboriginal people were involved in the Vancouver Games, the promises made to them, and the legacies that actually materialized, suggests the present day arrangement for Aboriginal people within the Olympic industry has actually worsened.
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Keywords: Aboriginal; Agenda 21; Olympic; commercialization; culture; power relations

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Western University

Publication date: June 1, 2016

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  • PUBLIC is a beautifully designed peer-reviewed journal founded in Toronto as an intellectual and creative forum that focuses on how theoretical, and critical issues intersect with art and visual culture. Each issue's editors explore a contemporary theme by bringing together a unique assemblage of Canadian and international art projects with writing by scholars, curators, critics, and artists. This, along with book and exhibit reviews, creates an assemblage of artists projects and original writing on prescient contemporary themes in art and culture.
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