Historicizing the Politics and Pleasure of Sport
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This issue of Radical History Review explores the contradictory history of sports as a global cultural phenomenon that has provided opportunities for pleasure, freedom, solidarity, and resistance, as well as the reproduction of class privilege, patriarchy, racism, and inequality.
Features Sean Dinces shows that behind the neoliberal rhetoric of privatization lies a starkly different reality in which the state subsidizes professional sports arenas. Alan McDougall’s history of soccer in East Germany reveals how the sport shaped everyday life in the socialist state. Hikabwa D. Chipande examines the political and cultural implications of black copper miners’ soccer clubs and sociability in colonial Zambia. Amira Rose Davis uncovers the sporting lives of three African American women in the Negro Leagues to expand understanding of sports and politics in the civil rights era. Brian D. Bunk focuses on media discourses in the 1923 Jack Dempsey versus Luis Firpo heavyweight world championship boxing match to delineate the shifting racial boundaries of “whiteness” in the United States. Jeffrey Richey uses an Argentine newspaper’s racist coverage of visiting black Brazilian soccer players to explore how popular media in the 1920s constructed notions of whiteness, racial difference, and exceptionalism. David C. LaFevor considers interracial boxing in late nineteenth-century Mexico as a challenge to notions of civilization, gender, and cultural sovereignty during a formative moment in the development of the Mexican public sphere.
Reflections Thomas P. Oates looks at race, economics, and the changing politics of US sport media through the case of Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder’s NFL coverage. Steven W. Thrasher examines how sports were used to determine the value of three young black men in Missouri with dramatic and even fatal consequences.
Curated Spaces Jennifer Doyle analyzes the work of artist Jennifer Locke, whose wrestling pieces challenge traditional norms of gender segregation in sport.
Teaching Radical History Peter Alegi, Amy Bass, Adrian Burgos Jr., Brenda Elsey, and Martha Saavedra discuss how their historical research on sport in different world regions shapes their pedagogy and helps students understand the complex relationships between sport and power.
(Re)Views Glen Thompson reviews books on swimming and surfing and shows the connections between water sports, culture, politics, and the environment. Daniel Widener reviews three recent books on soccer and society in Europe focusing on the English Premier League, the politics of the Real Madrid–Barcelona rivalry, and the possibility of soccer as a site of anticapitalist resistance.