[URBANTH-L]Call for Chapters

Thomas Carter ethnocuba at yahoo.com
Tue Nov 2 06:20:58 EST 2004


Winning Cities: The use of sport as sign of modernity 

Widely recognized within the broader political,
economic, and cultural processes that are called
globalization, the worldwide spread of sport as a
cultural institution, complete with global
institutions, such as the IOC (International Olympic
Committee) and the FIFA (the Federation Internationale
de Football Association), that rival the UN in size,
scope and influence, belies the vast variety of social
contexts that a single sport can manifest itself.  Yet
sport’s prominence around the world is an
all-too-often unmentioned aspect of the political
economy of major urban populations that is
automatically assumed to be entrenched in post-Fordist
capitalist forms of consumerism. 

The existence of a vibrant sporting culture is often
presented as evidence of a city’s position in the
modern world.  Used by cities in North America and
Europe as a means of rejuvenating dilapidated urban
areas through processes of gentrification, how cities
are perceived, imagined, and experienced is predicated
upon the construction of a specific urban image
predicated upon the sporting experience.  But the use
of sport to simultaneously coalesce a sense of
community within a sweeping urban environment and
project specific imagery of a city in a globally
competitive environment follows specific discursive
strategies based on: 

1) nationalism—in which sporting experiences are
contextualized within a nationalist or nation-building
framework even though the city in question may or not
be the capital of that country.

2) consumerism—in which a city literally becomes a
playground for certain classes to wither away its
leisure time in specific sporting experiences.

3) modernism—in which participation in sport
symbolically demonstrates the city’s modern qualities
and characteristics thereby providing proof that the
city in question is a fully civilized, urban

Sport, in this instance, takes on a dual meaning. It
reflects civic leaders’ efforts to harness perceived
social, political, and economic capital of sport for
the benefit of the city, as they widely imagine it. 
Sport also refers to the idea that these cities are in
an informal competition between each other for
recognition as a modern, thriving metropolis through
its sort facilities and practices. The role of sport
in the expansion of global capital in the twentieth
century and its ties to imperial and colonial projects
in the nineteenth century, as well as its associations
with militarism, are all qualities that have been
remarked upon in various scholarly approaches to
sport.  Whatever the imagery used, these discursive
constructs rely on the idea that the city in question
is a sporting city: a city that demonstrates its
vitality, energy, civilization, and modernity through
its sporting capacity.  That capacity can be reflected
in the success of its sports teams in prestigious
leagues, in its ability to make use of existing
facilities to host sporting events of national or
international significance, or some combination of the
This project then looks at how sport is harnessed for
the construction of modernity in a global context
among cities that are not usually included in
discussions on the globalization of sport.  Global
cities, such as New York, Tokyo, and London, form
central nodes the global flow of various economic,
political, and cultural forces.  Yet other streams
bypass these central nodes completely.  Rather the
capabilities of a specific city to construct and
project an image of sporting power can certainly play
a role in the formation of a city as a sporting city,
in the manner in which sport supposedly reflects
distinctive qualities and elements that make each
particular city different from similar cities.  It
those cities “on the margin” that the authors examine
in this project.  What is proposed is an examination
of how other cities, in a sample across (at least)
five continents (North and South America, Asia,
Europe, and Africa.  These papers look at how the
cities not normally associated with the ideas of
globalization assert a place in a broader global
awareness all the while keeping a localized context
and significance through the use of sport.  Tentative
chapters already include articles on Belfast, Havana,
Sapporro, and Buenos Aires. 

I am especially interested in proposed chapters on
African, Asian and Latin American cities with an eye
towards avoiding those cities world-wide that have or
are about to host major international sporting
tournaments/festivals. Prospective submissions are not
limited to these regions but, due to the nearly
complete dominance of Anglo-speaking societies in
studies on sport, it is preferred that authors
consider how other cultural milieus affect the urban
practices of sport.

If interested contact via email or via post

Thomas Carter, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer in Leisure and Sociology
College of Humanities and Sciences
EA A4 Caerleon Campus
University of Wales, Newport
P.O. Box 179
NP18 3YG
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 1633 432 815
Fax: +44 (0) 1633 432 150

Alt email: tom.carter at newport.ac.uk

Do you Yahoo!? 
Check out the new Yahoo! Front Page. 

More information about the URBANTH-L mailing list