This collection showcases an impressive array of scholarship that employs new and traditional sources to highlight the importance of athletes, who often find themselves at the intersection of discussions about race, gender, nation, civic identity, and public space. Seamlessly weaves national identity, gendered discourse, civic life, and ethnicity from one chapter to the next. This volume privileges the human body over organized sports and presents physicality as a connective tissue. Across eight chapters, authors imbue athletes with symbolic and social significance as mediators of longstanding dichotomies across the region. This compilation will be welcomed by Latin Americanists searching for an accessible and varied collection to use in undergraduate courses on popular culture, as well as by sports scholars seeking to deepen their breadth of coverage of sports in the Global South.
Perhaps no other activity is more synonymous with passion, identity, bodily ideals, and the power of place than sport. As the essays in this volume show, the function of sport as a historical and cultural marker is particularly relevant in Latin America. From the late nineteenth century to the present, the contributors reveal how sport opens a wide window into local, regional, and national histories. The essays examine the role of sport as a political vehicle, in claims to citizenship, as a source of community and ethnic pride, as a symbol of masculinity or feminism, as allegorical performance, and in many other purposes. Sports Culture in Latin American History juxtaposes analyses of better-known activities such as boxing and soccer with first peoples’ athletics in Argentina, Cholita wrestling in Bolivia, the African-influenced martial art of capoeira, Japanese Brazilian gateball, the “Art Deco” body ideal for postrevolutionary Mexican women, Jewish soccer fans in Argentina and transgressive behavior at matches, and other topics. The contributors view the local origins and adaptations of these athletic activities and their significance as insightful narrators of history and culture.
Challenging settled notions of what sports are, the Sheinin volume helps emphasize one of the intriguing possibilities of the field: that questions which have guided recent scholars of sport-about ritual, about performance, and about embodiments-might be posed in the study of subjects not obviously connected to sports.
Sports Culture in Latin American History captured my attention and expanded my sense of Latinidad by exposing under-analyzed, vastly hybrid histories and sporting practices. Extending key works in sport studies, each chapter offers a broad geopolitical lens on the role of sport in nation building, settlement, community activism, and social hierarchies. The collection offers a much-needed corrective to a U.S. practice of over-reliance on European-centered historical and cultural landscape for theorizing sport.
For those looking to expand their knowledge of sports as social phenomena, this book exposes the complex and diverse foundations of physical culture in today's Latin America. From the cholitas luchadoras bringing their indigenous roots to wrestling rings in Bolivia to the transformation of once repressed Afro-Brazilian capoeira into a highlighted national sport, the chapters in this collection illustrate the ever emerging connection between sports and culture.
Sport offers a window to examine different aspects of identity. This multidisciplinary collection helps us understand the complexity and gray zones of Latin American sports as more than a simple diffusion, assimilation, and adoption of European sports. These thought-provoking essays raise new questions about the definition of sports in relation to the body, culture, and space.
David M. K. Sheinin is professor of history at Trent University. He is the author of Consent of the Damned: Ordinary Argentinians in the Dirty War, and the editor of Sports Culture in Latin American History, among other books.