1st Edition

Indigenous, Traditional, and Folk Sports Contesting Modernities

Edited By Mariann Vaczi, Alan Bairner Copyright 2024
    296 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This is the first book to focus on indigenous, traditional, and folk sports and sporting cultures. It examines the significance of sporting cultures that have survived the emergence and diffusion of western sports and have carved out a unique position not only in spite of modernity but also in response to it.

    Presenting case studies from around the world, including from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, this book draws on multidisciplinary work from sociology, anthropology, history, cultural studies, and political science, exploring key themes in the social sciences including nationalism, identity, decolonisation, and gender. From Turkish oil wrestling, kabaddi in South Asia, Iroquois lacrosse, to wushu and sumo in East Asia and various European traditional sports, these sporting practices continue to capture the indigenous imagination on the margins of the western hegemonic sport complex. Situated in the fissures between the local, the national, and the global; between the archaic and the modern; and between ritual and record, they inhabit a liminal space of transformation as they assume new cultural and political meanings, offering important perspectives on the complexities and contradictions of modernity. The volume’s decolonial perspective lies in its promotion of indigenous and subaltern worldviews through their traditional movement cultures on the margins of the western hegemonic sport complex.

    This is a fascinating reading for anybody with an interest in sport, nationalism, Indigenous studies, heritage and folklore studies, anthropology, social and cultural history, or globalisation.


    Mariann Vaczi and Alan Bairner 

    Part I

    Rediscovering Heritage: Identity and Ethnopolitics 

    1          Oil over Turkey: UNESCO’s Kirkpinar Wrestling in Edirne

                Bridget Krawietz 

    2          Xam Sa Coosan, “Know your Heritage”: Senegalese Wrestling and the “Rediscovery” of Ethnicity

    Mark Hann 

    3          Heritage, Spectacle, Ethnos: The Revival of Traditional Games in Central Asia

                Tom Fabian 

    4          From Subalternity to Intangible Heritage and National Symbol: Catalonia’s Castells

                Mariann Vaczi 

    Part II

    Nationalizing the Traditional 

    5          The Construction and Deconstruction of Kabaddi, the National Sport of Bangladesh: A Tale of Its Identity and Decline

                Kazi Mahmudur Rahman and Marufa Akter 

    6          A Tale of Two Sumos: Tradition and Sport

                Lee Thompson 

    7          Ireland’s Hurling

                Paul Rouse 

    8          Finnish Pesäpallo: The Modernization and Indigenization of a Northern European Bat-and-Ball Game

                Henrik Meinander 

    Part III

    Modernizing the Indigenous: “Redemptions” and Disenchantments 

    9          From Segregation to Integration: Changing Gender Roles in the Modernisation of Traditional Folk Sports in China

                Huan Xiong and Xuefei Han 

    10        Traditional Chinese Martial Arts: The Naming and Development of Wushu

                 Cindy Park and Alan Bairner 

    11        Swedish Bandy and its Struggle with Modernity

                Torbjörn Andersson 

    12        Playing for the Creator: Understanding the Indigenous Roots of Lacrosse

                Travis Taylor and Alan Bairner 

    Part IV

    Indigenizing the Modern: In Search of Myth, Ethos, and Symbol 

    13        The Symbolism of Indigenous Sport Disciplines: Sámi Sports and their Roots in Reindeer Husbandry

                Eivind Åsrum Skille and Michael Sam 

    14        Dragon Boat: A Traditional Asian Sport with a Modern Flair

                Mark Brooke 

    15        Beyond the Sweep: The Meanders of Capoeira as a Martial Art and Cultural Expression

                Louis Forline 

    16        Between Modern Sport and Ethnic Essence: The Jai Alai of Global Capitalism, and the Pelota of the Basques

                Mariann Vaczi


    Mariann Vaczi is Assistant Professor of Basque Studies and Anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno, USA. She is the author of Soccer, Culture and Society in Spain: An Ethnography of Basque Fandom (Routledge, 2015) and Catalonia’s Human Towers: Castells, Cultural Politics, and the Struggle toward the Heights (Indiana University Press, 2023). She is the co-editor of Sport and Secessionism (Routledge, 2020).

    Alan Bairner Professor of Sport and Social Theory at Loughborough University, UK. He is the co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Sport and Politics (Routledge, 2016) and Sport and Secessionism (Routledge, 2020).