Poofters Taking the Piss out of Anzacs: The (Un-)Australian Wit of Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.  Morton, John 2008 Anthropological Forum vol 18(3).


Find the article here.


As an annual event, Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has a key place in the Australian national calendar. Following leads from Gabrielle Carey (1995) and Fiona Nicoll (2001), this paper explores the meaning of Mardi Gras in relation to Australia’s premier ritual event, Anzac Day. It is argued that Mardi Gras and Anzac Day are formally related to an older pairing of Carnival and Easter, and are related to each other as sin is to redemption. However, I show that, because of certain (homophobic) flaws in the configuration of the Anzac legend, the comedic counterpoint of Mardi Gras can itself be elevated to the status of the sacred, giving rise to inherent instability in the symbolic economy of the Australian nation state. After considering a number of examples of Mardi Gras’s transgressive (‘Un-Australian’) humour, I conclude with a general reflection on jokes in Australian ritual politics, particularly in regard to the ‘subject positions’ of those who might inappropriately analyse these politics from a perspective that privileges essentialist notions of opposition and resistance.

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