- Beyond C. L. R. James: Shifting Boundaries of Race and Ethnicity in Sport ed. by John Nauright, Alan G. Cobley, and David K. Wiggins
The essays in this book were mainly from presentations given at the Third International Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Sport at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, in Barbados. They focus on the interconnections among sport, race, and ethnicity from a global perspective. The conference’s purpose was to go beyond C. L. R. James’s scholarship about how race and ethnicity influence sport and sport influences race and ethnicity. James was interested in social justice, colonial and postcolonial struggles, the role of culture and sport in society, and how political economy impacts the shaping of identities and the subjugation of peoples. [End Page 434]
The book is divided into four sections: the study of race and ethnicity in sport; race and ethnicity in historical context; ethnicity, migration, bodies, and sport; and crossing boundaries and maintaining boundaries. The editors are Africanist John Nauright, director of the Centre of Sport, Tourism and Leisure Studies at the University of Brighton; David K. Wiggins, codirector of the Center for the Study of Sport and Leisure in Society at George Mason University, who is responsible for the historical section; and Africanist Alan G. Cobley, pro-vice chancellor of Undergraduate Studies at the University of the West Indies.
Section 1 suggests that the embodied athletes and spectators shape and reshape sporting cultures in ways that would be recognizable to James but seek to move beyond the limitations created by the political agendas of anticolonialism and overt racism. Sir Hilary McD. Beckles, renowned historian of West Indian cricket, briefly examines how James might have dealt with the recent developments of cricket and how the sport altered within the West Indies as the fight for legitimacy waned. Malcolm MacLean calls for dealing with the ambiguities of indigenous involvement with sport in the West Indies by selectively employing postcolonial analysis, such as the admittedly difficult work of Homi K. Bhabha’s poststructuralism that sees colonials engaging with the colonists’ culture through positions and processes he calls ironic mimicry and sly civility. Bhabha’s theory can help scholars more effectively understand how sport is a colonial tool to secure hegemony and dominance, but also an instrument subalterns use to resist, subvert, and deny colonial hegemony. Booth and Nauright examine the racialized body in South Africa in the eras of segregation, apartheid, and postapartheid. They employ theory to consider concepts of embodied identity that James discussed in his work on cricketer Sir Garfield Sobers, who embodied West Indian struggles. Historian Daryl Adair analyzes race and Aborigines in Australian sport history, where until recently these indigenous people were treated as subhuman. Finally, Verner Moller explores the complexities of race in the 2011 Luis Suárez–Patrice Evra incident in the Premier League when the Uruguayan racially slurred the Frenchman. Moller seeks to demonstrate what was and was not actual racism in practice and that race is culturally determined in different ways in different societies—particularly Uruguay and England. Moller shows that the policing of language does not solve problems of actual intended racist behavior and actually creates more problems than it solves.
The historical section focuses on issues of different individuals and groups contesting their place in sports and the constraints faced by minorities. These athletes used their skills, good luck, or social connections to gain fame through sports. They served as a symbol of possibility, nurtured a sense of identity and self-worth, and both challenged and reaffirmed long-standing dominant-gender ideology and social-class standing. In their well-researched study of Zulu stick fighting from 1880 to 1930, Benedict Carton and Robert Morell show how the activity was about reinforcing male prowess and raising one’s social standing. Stick fighting changed a lot after the elimination of the Zulu state in 1879, fitting in with the kinship...