Sport, Culture, and Anthropology
Thomas Carter (University of Brighton)
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines some of the ways in which an anthropology of sport can contribute to a greater understanding of sport by critiquing the dominant idea of a 'sport culture' pervasive throughout sport studies.
Paper long abstract:
This paper has two main points. The first addresses the contemporary approaches to sport outside of anthropology in which the premise for the study of sport is that there is an object of enquiry called 'sport culture'. The second is that contemporary approaches to sport are far too rooted in English-speaking, Protestant societies. An anthropology of sport can incisively critique these two weaknesses and provide a more pervasive, thorough, and insightful understanding of sport. I draw on my 3 years of fieldwork on Cuban sport conducted over the past seventeen years to demonstrate how an anthropological approach to sport unequivocally challenges the dominant understandings of sport found throughout sport studies. Cuban sport provides informative examples of how the sport may be the same but 'the way you play the game' differs from the presumed universal values of a 'sport culture'. By doing so I am arguing for a more anthropological and dynamic conception of culture that is informed by ethnographically based studies of any given sport wherever and whenever played in the world.
The anthropology of sport in a changing world