This panel seeks papers which apply an anthropological analysis to the field of sport and in so doing shed critical light on issues of consumption, commercialisation and neo-liberalisation and their relationship to concerns around cultural identity and community.
Sport is a near-ubiquitous feature of global societies yet Social Anthropology, in contrast to Sociology, has often seemed to be reticent to take sports as a serious area for analysis. This is particularly remiss given that many of the issues which dominate Anthropology are germane to the area of sport. In particular, sport offers a productive field for pursuing the Anthropological interest in the relation of consumption and commercialisation to issues of cultural identity and community. For example, sports mega-events, such as the Olympic games and the football world cup, have offered the possibility of mass-consumption on a global scale through television broadcasts while at the same time being met with protests claiming the commercial interests of such spectacles are riding roughshod over the wishes of local peoples. Meanwhile, the increased concern within Anthropology over the effects of neo-liberalisation and finacialisation, and the possibility of popular resistance to these economic modalities, has been mirrored within the sphere of sport. For instance, in recent years many football fan groups across the world have mobilised to protest against the increasingly commercialised and exclusionary form football clubs have taken. This panel seeks papers which utilise Social Anthropologies core modes of analysis of detailed ethnographic description and cross cultural comparison to shed light on sport and its relationship to the critical economic and political issues facing global societies.