'Indian hockey [and football] tricks'

race, magic, wonder and empire in Australian-Indian sporting relations, 1926-1938

Erik Nielsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


This article provides a study of Australian-Indian sporting relations in the 1920s and 1930s. It draws attention to a number of tours made by hockey (Indian teams to Australia in 1926, 1935 and 1938), cricket (an Australian team to India 1935-36) and soccer teams (an Indian team to Australia in 1935). It does so with reference to a number of issues of historical importance. Racial discourse was central to press reports and official discussions that accompanied Australian encounters with Indian athletes and society. The abilities of Indian athletes that were displayed in their contests with Australians were viewed through a lens of Orientalist stereotypes. The racial aspect of this relationship was paradoxically supplemented by expressions of Imperial unity. India was on occasion recognised as a 'sister dominion' of Australia, and the relationship was located within a context of wider Imperial unity. Counter-paradoxically, the Australian-Indian sporting relationship also revealed tensions within Australian (and New Zealand) society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-564
Number of pages14
JournalSport in Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes

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