Cannibals, colorful birds, and exuberant nature : the representation of brazilian nationalism and its tropical modernity in the 2016 Rio Olympics / Daniel Malanski

Malanski, Daniel

Hosting the Olympics is a singular opportunity to build an updated narrative of the nation. Such a narrative is traditionally intended to emphasize the hosting country contributions toward the modern project through the displaying of key nationalistic accounts linking the country’s history to the development of western society. In the case of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, its organizing committee has sought into Brazil’s history different elements that were central to both the formation of Brazilian identity and the discussion over current global issues. Therefore, the country’s enduring relation with nature as well as national narratives such as modernist Anthropophagy, the discourse of ethnic miscegenation, and the myth of Brazil as a racial democracy became historical credentials to use environmentalism and tolerance as the paramount features of Rio-2016’s aesthetics as well as a means to denounce xenophobia and the effects of the Anthropocene on the planet. We argue that the exposition of these two issues in the event’s ceremonies was a way to symbolically insert the country within modernity’s forefront. In this article, we examine the sociopolitical aspects that led to the creation and popularization of Brazilian nationalistic narratives that were later used during the Rio 2016 opening ceremony and the ways such aspects were internationally conveyed during the aforementioned theatrical presentation.

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