Masculinities: Football, Polo, and the Tango in Argentina

Masculinities: Football, Polo, and the Tango in Argentina

Masculinities: Football, Polo, and the Tango in Argentina

Masculinities: Football, Polo, and the Tango in Argentina

Synopsis

The complex relationship between nationalism and masculinity has been explored both historically and sociologically with one consistent conclusion: male concepts of courage and virility are at the core of nationalism. In this ground-breaking book, the author questions this assumption and advances the debate through an empirical analysis of masculinity in the revealing contexts of same-sex (football and polo) and cross-sex (tango) relations. Because of its rich history, Argentina provides the ideal setting in which to study the intersection of masculine and national constructs: hybridization, creolization and a culture of performance have all informed both gender and national identities. Further, the author argues that, counter to claims made by globalization theorists, the importance of performance to Argentinian men and women has a long history and has powerfully shaped the national psyche.But this book takes the analysis far beyond national boundaries to address general arguments in anthropology which are not culture-specific, and the discussion poses important comparative questions and addresses central theoretical issues, from the interplay of morality and ritual, to a comparison between the popular and the aristocratic, to the importance of 'othering' in national constructions - particularly those relating to sport.This book represents a major contribution, not only to anthropology, but to the study of gender, nationalism and culture in its broadest sense.

Excerpt

This book is the result of many years of research on the meanings of football, polo and the tango in Argentinian society. Parts of chapters 2, 5, 6 and 7 have been published earlier (see Archetti 1994, 1996, 1997a,b). the choice of sport and dance was the result of a research strategy that attempted to combine images of men and masculinities with concrete historical contexts, nationalist ideology and modernization of the city of Buenos Aires, and with recent anthropological debates on hybridity and morality. a pioneer book on football in Brazil with the programmatic introduction written by DaMatta (1982), a prestigious Brazilian anthropologist trained in the study of ‘primitive’ Amazonian people, opened the door to the study of sport and its relation to the ‘national’ in latin America and in anthropology in general. Inspired by structuralism as the search for decisive cognitive maps, and by ritual theory as the importance of public dramatic performances in complex societies, DaMatta in an earlier book (1978) problematized the ‘national’ through the analysis of carnival - and samba - and the construction of popular heroes. the connection between football and dance as an anthropological field of empirical research in latin American studies thus became evident. I shall first present some of the methodological orientations - the mixing of the oral and the written, the use of limited historical constructicn and the limitations of auto-anthropology - and, briefly afterwards, the theoretical concerns that have guided my research and that, in many ways, depart from the original preoccupations of DaMatta. the theoretical stances will be developed successively throughout the book.

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