Sport is an important social and cultural domain in Western Europe, not only in the form of national sports, but also in neighbourhood and youth sports. Often it is assumed that participation in sports has a positive impact on communities and neighbourhoods, social cohesion and social integration, especially when it concerns youth. Many public spaces in multicultural neighbourhoods are thus designed for sport. Yet, these sporting spaces are not equally occupied, but structured by social and cultural practices and norms, inclusion and exclusion. For example, girls are often excluded from public playgrounds.
In this conference we explore the creation of urban spaces where gender, ethnic and religious diversities are manifested; with a specific focus on sporting spaces – playgrounds, streets, fields – in the broader context of popular culture, feminist movements and (community) activism.
Some of the relevant questions in relation to the interplay of space and sports are: How are urban spaces created by citizens, sports organizers, corporations, governments, and how do sports, gender, class, race, ethnicity, and religion intersect in urban spaces? How is space and sport gendered and racialized? Where and when are (sporting) spaces conceptualized as ´private´ or as ´public´, and how can we understand their overlap.
We aim to explore these questions particularly in the context of the Netherlands and Western Europe. Urban space is an important topic of public and political debates, with specific attention to ‘problematic’ neighbourhoods with high rates of unemployment, poverty, criminality and (religious) extremism, where these problems are often linked to multiculturalism, gender and ethnicity. Sports programs and sporting spaces are one ‘solution’ municipalities and social workers design for (male) youngsters in these neighbourhood.
Many (sporting) spaces, however, are also created and designed bottom-up by citizens themselves, especially spaces used by girls. The conference will specifically focus on these gendered self-organized spaces, on the street, on neighbourhood playgrounds and in community organized activities. With insights from urban and cultural anthropology, gender studies, philosophy, geography, and race and ethnicity studies we aim at a critical, interdisciplinary and intersectional discussion of sports and spaces, in relation to gender, religious, ethnic and other diversities.
This conference is part of the Dutch research ‘Van voetbalvrouwen tot vrouwenvoetbal’(From Football Wives to Women’s Football: an Interdisciplinary Research into the Societal Impact of Women’s Football in The Netherlands), funded by NWO (the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research).
Cara Aitchison, Professor, Geography and Sociology of Leisure, Sport and Tourism. Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, University of St Mark & St John, Plymouth, UK.
Professor Cara Aitchison is known for her work in leisure studies, gender studies and human geography and has published widely on social justice, gender, space and belonging in sport and leisure.
Selected books: Sport and Gender Identities: Masculinities, Femininities and Sexualities (Routledge, 2007); Geographies of Muslim Identities: Diaspora, Gender and Belonging (Ashgate, 2007; edited with Peter Hopkins and Mei-Po Kwan).
Paul Silverstein, Professor of Anthropology, Reed College, Portland, US.
Professor Paul Silverstein’s work focusses on citizenship, migration, youth and sports in France, Europe and North-Africa. His work combines insights from urban anthropology, postcolonial studies and race and ethnicity studies.
Selected books: Algeria in France: Transpolitics, Race, and Nation (Indiana University Press, 2004); Bourdieu in Algeria: Colonial Politics, Ethnographic Practices, Theoretical Developments (University of Nebraska Press, 2009; edited with Jane Goodman).
Jayne O. Ifekwunigwe, Visiting Associate Professor, African and African American Studies, Duke University, Durham, US.
Professor Jayne Ifekwunigwe was a former Reader in Anthropology and works in cultural studies, diaspora studies and gender studies. In her research she discusses the intersections of race, class, gender and time/space in popular culture and diasporas.
Selected books: Scattered Belongings. Cultural Paradoxes of Race, Nation and Gender (Routledge, 1999); ‘Mixed Race’ Studies. A Reader (Routledge, 2004, ed.).
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