“Soccer as an Instrument of Nation-building”
12-14 Feb. 2016, Irsee (Germany)
“Some people believe football is a matter of life and death; I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”
The statement by former FC Liverpool manager Bill Shankly proved true when the European Championship qualifying match in Belgrade on October 14th, 2014 between Serbia and Albania had to be cut short after a drone carrying the flag of “greater Albania” was flown over the stadium by Albanian nationalists, provoking violence between players on both sides.
As this incident demonstrates, the narrative that associates soccer with understanding between nations falls short of the mark. The fields of social science and history have dealt extensively with the topic of “soccer and violence.” Social psychologists have also researched the role of soccer in the construction of social as well as regional and national identities. However, one aspect that has gained very little attraction until now is Eric Hobsbawm’s theory that the sport of soccer takes on meaning in the context of the formation of the concept of the nation: “The imagined community of millions seems more real as a team of eleven named people.”
Both world wars, decolonization and the end of the Cold War have brought forth a new international order in the 20th century, the basic building block of which is the nation-state. Nation-building is a complex process that comprises both the establishment of shared cultural standards and the arbitrary creation of national identity (keyword: “invention of tradition”).
The 9th Irsee Sports Historical Conference on “Soccer as an Instrument of Nation-Building” will discuss, from a contemporary and global history perspective, to what extent the game of soccer with its mass media appeal has become a central element and instrument of nation-building.
Submissions should be unpublished empirical case studies or comparative presentations on the connection between soccer and nation-building of no longer than 30 minutes, to be followed by a 15-minute discussion period.
Please submit working titles and an abstract (max. 500 words) in German or English as well as a brief bio to:
by August 30, 2015.
Conference languages are German and English. Travel and accommodation costs will be covered if possible. Conference proceedings will be published.
Planning and Organization:
Markwart Herzog (Schwabenakademie Irsee)
Dominik J. Schaller (Universität Heidelberg)