Sport, Culture, and Politics in Latin America and the Caribbean

Conference on Latin American History 32
Saturday, January 8, 2011: 9:00 AM-11:00 AM
Parliament Room (The Westin Copley Place)
Joseph L. Arbena, Clemson University
Joseph L. Arbena, Clemson University

Session Abstract

Sport is one area of historical inquiry that is experiencing increasing attention. This is because games and sports are an integral part of society and exert a high degree of influence in politics, society, and cultural identities. From the fatal incidents during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, or the Soccer War of 1969 between El Salvador and Honduras, sports can be central in the study of state power and conflict. However, this panel will not revolve around such dramatic violent conflicts, but on the subtle, equally powerful, contestations between power, meaning, and sport. Topics addressed in this panel vary from Olympic representation and its institutions, to the politics of local soccer clubs, sport and national identities, and recreation and speleology; covering areas from the Caribbean to the Southern Cone. While sport can be studied as a politico-cultural phenomenon used to legitimize hegemonic projects, be it local or foreign imperial, it can also be assessed as a dawdling counter-hegemonic response. In relation to the nation, the development of “national” teams to compete at Olympic games or World Cups sparked questions of the nature of the nation-state that included, among other things, notions of race and class. Furthermore, the logistics of maintaining a sport club can prove to be the perfect scenario to legitimize long standing political and social relations. Indeed, few areas of society are left untouched by the subtle, but compelling, influence of sport. Science, recreation, and state territorial mapping can all be imbued in a discussion over the extreme development of sport. In all, the examination of sport, power, culture, and the state in Latin America and the Caribbean is rapidly reaching new horizons that will evidence its permanent presence in groundbreaking scholarship.