Panel Discussion

Saturday, January 6, 2018: 2:30 PM
Madison Room A (Marriott Wardman Park)
Antonio Sotomayor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Despite their colonial relation under the United States, Puerto Ricans began participating in the Olympic movement by attending the Central American and Caribbean Games (CACG) in 1930. This made Olympic sport a key component in the development of a “colonial” national identity. This presentation will discuss the role that the Olympic movement played in Puerto Rican nationalists’ freedom struggles, in the construction of Puerto Rican national identity, and in the broader process of decolonization. From rejecting American sports as cultural tools of U.S. imperialism and ignoring Puerto Rican Olympic participation during the 1930s, by the 1970s a new generation of nationalists welcomed sports and celebrated the Olympic delegation as an expression of the Puerto Rican nation. I will argue that the Olympic movement is a good window to observe competing ideas of the nation, underscoring the ways in which Olympic sport played a key part in anti-colonial struggles, ultimately serving as a tool to legitimize both colonialism and nationalism.
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