“100% Pure New Zealand”: National Branding and the Paradoxes of Scale

Shore, Cris. 2017. “100% Pure New Zealand”: National Branding and the Paradoxes of Scale. In: Ulf Hannerz and Andre Gingrich, eds. Small Countries: Structures and Sensibilities. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 47-66. ISBN 9780812248937 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Benedict Anderson (1983) famously observed that nations are distinguished ‘not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined’. Similar arguments could also be made for the idea of ‘smallness’ and its relationship to state formation and national identity. As Anderson, Brown and Purcell argue (2005), ‘scale is socially produced rather than ontologically give’. Taking up these arguments I explore how the idea of New Zealand as a small country – and the discourse of ‘smallness’ – has been utilized by the state as part of a wider project of national branding. This is particularly evident in trade policy and international diplomacy where the narrative of Aotearoa/New Zealand as a small, independent, nimble country that ‘punches above its weight’ in the international arena has been used to mobilise new forms of economic nationalism under the banner of ‘NZ Inc’. I also examine some of the contradictory ways that scale features in national imaginaries and representations of New Zealand, from dull sheep-farming station at the end of the world to exciting new tourist destination, adventure playground and ‘home to Middle Earth’. Understood as geographically isolated and sparsely populated with a population of only 4.5 million in a country occupying a land mass greater than that the United Kingdom and Italy, New Zealand offers an exemplary site for investigating some of the theoretical issues and tensions around scalar relations, cultural understandings of smallness, and the spatialization of politics.

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Book Section


May 2017Published

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Date Deposited:

14 Oct 2020 11:19

Last Modified:

28 Jun 2021 10:12



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