Temples of the Earthbound Gods: Stadiums in the Cultural Landscapes of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires

Temples of the Earthbound Gods: Stadiums in the Cultural Landscapes of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires

Temples of the Earthbound Gods: Stadiums in the Cultural Landscapes of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires

Temples of the Earthbound Gods: Stadiums in the Cultural Landscapes of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires

Synopsis

In Rio de Janeiro, the spiritual home of world football, and Buenos Aires, where a popular soccer club president was recently elected mayor, the game is an integral part of national identity. Using the football stadium as an illuminating cultural lens, Temples of the Earthbound Gods examines many aspects of urban culture that play out within these monumental architectural forms, including spirituality, violence, rigid social norms, anarchy, and also expressions of sexuality and gender.Tracing the history of the game in Brazil and Argentina through colonial influences as well as indigenous ball courts in Mayan, Aztec, Zapotec, Mixtec, and Olmec societies, Christopher Gaffney's study spans both ancient and contemporary worlds, linking the development of stadiums to urbanization and the consolidation of nation building in two of Latin America's most intriguing megacities.

Excerpt

John Bale

The stadium is a significant feature of places ranging from metropolitan centers to small towns and villages. the stadium, like the church, is a place of congregation—and, some would say, worship. in addition to the church, several other metaphors seek to essentialize the stadium—a garden, a theatre, and a prison. On the one hand, it is a much-loved place that folks often want to retain as a community focus and as a site that stimulates a sense of pride. On the other, it is arguably the most secure building in the city; hence, it has historically been used as a site of incarceration for criminals, immigrants, and “others.” Consequently, over time it has become meaningless to name a stadium after its sport. a baseball “field” or a “football ground” can be turned into a convention center, almost at the switch of a button. Instead of being a much-loved site, the stadium has become a multi-purpose facility, typified by domed arenas with their artificial lighting and plastic greensward.

Stadiums vary in size, function, and design. It is often felt that stadium architecture is becoming more standardized, moving toward the concrete bowl (after Le Corbusier) as a machine for making sport. Unarguably, the rules and regulations, manifested in the layout of the “playing” area with its predictable lines, zones, and limits are being standardized. in the stadium are found predictable geometries. the “sameness” that characterizes the sports site makes it a global phenomenon. a soccer pitch has to have the same dimensions in London, England as in London, Ontario. Geography has to give way to geometry.

The stadium is a melding of horticulture and architecture. I find it interesting that while rules and regulations govern the traditional layout of the horticulture (i.e. the playing “field”), the surrounding architecture is . . .

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