Sport and Postcolonialism

Sport and Postcolonialism

Sport and Postcolonialism

Sport and Postcolonialism

Synopsis

Compared with modes of representation such as literature, drama, poetry and dance, the world of sport has been largely neglected in postcolonial studies. At both local and global levels, however, sport has been profoundly affected by the colonial legacy. How are individual nations and different sporting cultures coping with this legacy? What does the end of colonialism mean within particular states and sports? How is postcolonialism linked with struggles of race and identity?Sport was a major tool of colonial power and postcolonialism manifests itself in the modern sporting world in several ways, including the huge number of world class athletes from former European empires and the exploitation of child-workers in postcolonial nations by the sporting goods industries. Many former colonial states place considerable importance on elite sport as a form of representation, yet a small number of such states oppose sport in its western form. This book explores the wealth of issues and experiences that comprise the postcolonial sporting world and questions whether sport can act as a form of resistance in postcolonial states and, if so, how such resistance might manifest itself in the rule-bound culture of sport.Its novel approach and topical focus makes this book essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary sports, postcolonialism, race and ethnic studies.

Excerpt

In 2001 a major Bollywood film, Lagaan, was released to much critical acclaim. the film was one the most expensive Indian films ever, and uniquely featured a large non-Indian cast. the film was set in an Indian village during the period of the Raj, and centred on the relationship between the locals and their colonial neighbours. in an attempt to settle a dispute between the two groups, the locals agree to play the British garrison at cricket ‘ a game that none of the Indians have ever previously played. the film is illustrative of many of the themes that are central to this collection of essays, that is the relationship between postcolonial peoples and sport. For the villagers in Lagaan the cricket match gave them an opportunity to defeat the local representatives of their colonial overlords. Such an opportunity to express the strengths of the local over the colonial was afforded by the shared space of a colonial game, in this instance, cricket. in the same way that postcolonial writers have used the language of the colonial to express themselves, so postcolonial sportsmen and women have largely used the bodily and sporting practices of the colonial in a similar fashion.

Postcolonialism can be regarded as one of a number of ‘posts’ that have assailed writers in a variety of disciplines in recent years. Initially the preserve of literary theorists, this particular ‘post–’ is now being embraced by scholars who – according to one observer – can hardly avoid doing so if they are ‘not to lose out on their share of the spoils of the most exciting and innovative realms of contemporary theory‘ (Barnett 1995: 417). the size and scope of the scholarly output that has accompanied postcolonial studies is evident from the recent publication of a five–volume anthology of postcolonial writings (Brydon 2000). Despite the vast literature that accompanies and has analysed postcolonialism, there is little in this that has focused on the role of sport within the postcolonial. Brydon's five–volume collection is dominated, perhaps understandably, by considerations of theoretical and literary approaches to postcolonialism. the fifth volume contains a section headed ‘PostcolonialTheory and the Disciplines’, which looks beyond the canon of postcolonial literature, and embraces studies . . .

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