Sport, politics and identity in twentieth-century Southeast Asia


Double Panel

Part 1

Session 1
Tue 09:30-11:00 REC A2.06

Part 2

Session 2
Tue 11:30-13:00 REC A2.06


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Several decades of research have demonstrated the social, cultural and political significance of sport in modern societies across the globe. Although Southeast Asia has come late to this field, a growing number of studies over the past decade have demonstrated that this region is no exception to this global trend. These have shown how, from the late nineteenth century, Western competitive sport helped to reinforce the ideological projects of colonizing Euro-American powers and modernizing elites. Likewise, following the Second World War and during the era of independence, national leaders and elites embraced and adapted sports practices and ideologies to promote their visions of postcolonial nation-building and development. While these figures came from across the political spectrum—left, right and neutralist, military and civilian—they shared a common concern with promoting sport domestically and hosting major regional events—such as the Asian Games, South East Asia Peninsular/Southeast Asian (SEAP/SEA) Games and the Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO)—in order to develop modern nations and boost national prestige. These processes encountered many obstacles, experienced wildly differing levels of success and were profoundly shaped—and, indeed, helped to shape—class, gender, colonial and racial relations.

In taking stock of and building on these developments in the field, this panel seeks to enhance understanding of the social, cultural and political impact of sport in twentieth-century Southeast Asia. Historians, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists and other scholars are invited to submit proposals related but not limited to the following subfields:

Sport and the state
Sport and nationalism
Sport, modernity and development
Sport and colonial rule
Sport and colonial/postcolonial identity
Sport, architecture and urban transformation
The politics of regional sport mega-events (Asian Games, SEA Games, GANEFO, etc.)
Sport and diplomacy
Sport, gender and power

Authors are encouraged to engage paradigms in both sports studies and Southeast Asian studies, including the growing literature that seeks to combine these fields, as well as to conceptualize sport in the context of Southeast Asia and beyond.