Beyond Disciplinary Communities NUBS 2.05
Jul 07, 2023 11:00 - 12:30(Europe/London)
20230707T1100 20230707T1230 Europe/London 9.7. Memory & Sport: Exploring New Connections across Disciplinary Communities

Sport is a locus of identity formation, group belonging, commemoration, nostalgia, emotion, activism, and more. This is particularly visible in Newcastle, where the presence of a sports stadium in the heart of the city has a physical, frequently audible, impact on the city. Sport, as a practice and a product, is also a locus of memory and so much that interacts with memory. Despite this, relatively few attempts have been made to explore the connections between cultural memory and sport studies. Besides an early special issue of the Sociology of Sport Journal (see Healey 1991) and a couple of edited volumes (see Weiting 2001; Niehaus & Tagsold 2012) efforts in this respect have been fragmented, scattered, and usually the preserve of sports historians (Manzenreiter & Horne 2011; Brawley & Radcliffe 2020). What is more, the existing literature dedicated to the intersections of sport and cultural memory, has tended to emphasize national empirical settings and frames of analysis to the disadvantage of other social formations and geo-conceptual lenses.In this panel we build on this literature by further exploring the potential of sport, as a subject matter, to provide a means of crossing disciplinary boundaries between memory studies and other academic disciplines, not least sport studies. Within the panel, we bring together scholars whose work, through their individual focus on football, surfing, skateboarding, and triathlon engages with themes at the heart of much memory research. In line with the conference's call for papers and with the bias of the earlier relevant research in mind, the panel's contributors all stress the role of memory and sport in relation to communities that succeed and/or exceed that of the nation state.The individual papers connect with a variety ...

NUBS 2.05 MSA Conference Newcastle 2023 conference@memorystudiesassociation.org
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Sport is a locus of identity formation, group belonging, commemoration, nostalgia, emotion, activism, and more. This is particularly visible in Newcastle, where the presence of a sports stadium in the heart of the city has a physical, frequently audible, impact on the city. Sport, as a practice and a product, is also a locus of memory and so much that interacts with memory. Despite this, relatively few attempts have been made to explore the connections between cultural memory and sport studies. Besides an early special issue of the Sociology of Sport Journal (see Healey 1991) and a couple of edited volumes (see Weiting 2001; Niehaus & Tagsold 2012) efforts in this respect have been fragmented, scattered, and usually the preserve of sports historians (Manzenreiter & Horne 2011; Brawley & Radcliffe 2020). What is more, the existing literature dedicated to the intersections of sport and cultural memory, has tended to emphasize national empirical settings and frames of analysis to the disadvantage of other social formations and geo-conceptual lenses.

In this panel we build on this literature by further exploring the potential of sport, as a subject matter, to provide a means of crossing disciplinary boundaries between memory studies and other academic disciplines, not least sport studies. Within the panel, we bring together scholars whose work, through their individual focus on football, surfing, skateboarding, and triathlon engages with themes at the heart of much memory research. In line with the conference's call for papers and with the bias of the earlier relevant research in mind, the panel's contributors all stress the role of memory and sport in relation to communities that succeed and/or exceed that of the nation state.

The individual papers connect with a variety of conference themes, including memory activism and social justice; deindustrialization and reinventions; and memoryscapes. While proposed within the 'beyond disciplinary communities' theme, the panel will provide opportunities to explore new opportunities for collaboration and dialogue that are of relevance for scholars across the MSA.



David Farrell Banks (co-author: Samuel Merrill)

Hope, Nostalgia and Sportswashing: The Saudi Arabian State Takeover of Newcastle United

The support of a football club is built on a sense of shared belonging, collective memory, common identity and, at times, a connection to place. Why support a sports team that has little success? The answer relates to notions of loyalty and trans generational commitments to different pasts and places. It is central to debates regarding the state ownership of sports teams, particularly when this is used to distract from the human rights abuses of the state in question – a phenomenon that has become known as "sportswashing". In October 2021 Newcastle United Football Club (NUFC), a team that last won a major trophy in 1969, was purchased by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF). For many of the club's supporters the takeover was welcomed as ushering in a new era of optimism following years of chronic disinvestment under the club's previous owner. And yet, as widely highlighted by journalists, political commentators and opposing fans, the takeover also directly connected the club to the human rights abuses of the Saudi State. This paper examines the tensions and ambiguities at the heart of the takeover through the responses it generated among NUFC fans both initially and on the first anniversary of its completion. Through the analysis of particular Twitter hashtags (e.g. #NUFC), local and national media coverage, and supporters group statements, we reveal the different strategies employed by fans to balance their commitment to the club and their memories of and nostalgia for near success, with the moral complications of the club's new ownership and the promise of future success. These range from those who determinedly promulgate for a depoliticized idea of sport to those who acknowledge that a commitment to the club's past and future 'success' demands an ongoing political reckoning with its present. In exploring these questions, the paper examines the importance of memory and emotion within the intersections between sport, place, identity and political activism. In doing so, it develops our understanding of how sportwashing operates and the responses it generates.


Clifton Evers

Polluted Leisure, Memory, and Resigned Activism

Violence. Violence everywhere. Dead crabs by the many thousands on the beach. Dead fish too. Sick dogs and concerned owners. Ponds full of tires. The wind sweeping through the wreckage of an abandoned steelworks providing an incessant hum echoing across this post-industrial coastal 'wasteland'. A surfer, shivering, hurriedly pulls and tugs on a neoprene wetsuit as they dance on the snow. A beachcomber hunts for washed up plastics to turn into art as they clamber amidst the sea life apocalypse. Pollution (both legacy and ongoing; both social and material) inescapably shapes relationships between memory and activism on a permanently polluted planet. Drawing on community-based storytelling, more-than-human theory, and creative methodologies in the paper I explore a case study of polluted leisure, memory, and 'resigned activism' in a post-industrial coastal 'shadow place' (Plumwood, 2008). I argue that 'polluted leisure' is a useful lens through which to understand how pollution-as-memory necessitates the formulating of a site-specific 'resigned activism' among residents in post-industrial coastal 'toxic natures' in NE England (Lora-Wainwright, 2017). I argue that the resigned activism is a tactical rather than strategic response to when pollution becomes an omnipresent part of citizen memories, affecting its appearance and subsequently how its inhabitants look, feel, act, and know (De Certeau, 1984).


Paul O'Connor

Skateboarding Spots as Memory Banks

Skateboarding studies have identified the ways in which skateboarders produce, reclaim and remake space. A whole host of banal urban settings come to be meaningful and even spiritual locations for skateboarders. Sets of concrete steps, ledges, and handrails take on a process of meaning making through repeated use and subcultural documentation in magazines and videos. These locations develop their own personas and names such, 'El Toro', 'Macba', 'Pier 7', 'Southbank' and some come to be immortalised in video games or as toys. However, little discussion has focussed on how these spots are themselves resources and repositories of memories. This paper focusses on the necessity of memory in skateboarding as a subcultural currency. Importantly skateboarding spots work as memory banks, living palimpsests, of skateboard culture and its development. It is argued that the importance of spots is sustained not by the location and the material substance of the spot, but in the ritualised remembering of the feats that took place there. Some of this remembering falls unevenly upon certain individuals more than others. To forget, or to be ignorant of the biography of some spots can either reveal you as a novice or label you as a fool. In contrast to the quantitative records of others sports, championships, medals, points, and batting averages, skateboarding spots come to provide a touchstone for archiving achievements and the history of the sport. Thus, the memory banks of skateboarding spots speak not simply of achievements, but also of style, fashion, brands, and urban development of cities across the globe.


Jane Hunt

From "Masochists" to "Feeling pretty special": (Re)composing Australian triathlon memory around women

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, many highly memorable triathlons were staged by Australian event management company, Multi-Sport Masochists. The company name featured a term that was widely used in Australian triathlon print media and oral traditions in the 1980s. During the same period, the President of the Triathlon Association of Victoria sparked a debate when he asked readers of the organisational newsletter why so few women participated in triathlon. Among the flood of responses by women published in the subsequent edition of the newsletter were many references to the perception of triathlon as a "macho" sport. Women contributors to the newsletter, other magazines, and in oral histories conducted over the past decade, instead present triathlon as an activity enabling growing confidence and self-affirmation. Drawing on oral history methodological interests in composure and feminist narrative approaches, this paper traces gendered conceptualisations of triathlon in grass roots acts of social memory such as articles in triathlon niche media, social media discourse and oral histories. It suggests that gendered understandings of triathlon are negotiated in triathlon memory-making acts. While hypermasculine accounts of athletic extremism tend to dominate in triathlon discourse, women have pursued composure with counter-narratives that discursively recognise them as female athletes. This paper considers what triathlon looks like when we focus of female social memory.

Participatory Research and Impact Coordinator
,
Fitzwilliam Museum
Lecturer
,
Newcastle University
Lecturer (Sociology & Anthropology)
,
University of Exeter
Assistant Professor
,
Bond University
Participatory Research and Impact Coordinator
,
Fitzwilliam Museum
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