Soccer as a Global Phenomenon (Harvard University, April 14-16, 2016)

In light of the recent FIFA scandals exposing the global interconnections of soccer (football, for non-North Americans), here’s an appropriately-timed call for papers from our colleagues at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Initiative on Global History for a conference–taking place from April 14-16, 2016–that promises to cast light on the global history of “the beautiful game”:

Soccer is the most global of games and one of the most vigorous engines of the process commonly known, celebrated, or feared as globalization. Beyond its immense popularity, soccer now enjoys tremendous success as a global industry with many interlocking parts in an intricate architecture of organizations that represent clubs, nations, regions, and continents. Just as the game once took shape in the context of the reconfiguration of social life in industrializing societies, the industrialization of soccer itself accompanies profound changes in the disciplines of labor and leisure during the New Media Age with its unprecedented power to penetrate distant corners and private spaces via digital links. Yet, the game still derives much of its vitality from passions rooted in a sense of place and of community.

The organizing theme of the conference is precisely this tension or modes of accommodation between the globalizing impulse and the tenacious appeal of local attachments, past and present. We are interested in exploring different dimensions of that theme while sparking a conversation about the relevance of a study of soccer and of sports for a deeper critical understanding of global history and of globalization.

We are seeking proposals from scholars at all stages of their academic career, including graduate students, who wish to present their original research on a variety of topics dealing with social, political, or economic aspects of different ecosystems of the world of soccer –including modest clubs and lesser known leagues as well as global icons and organizations like FIFA— or with the evolution of “the beautiful game” itself. We are particularly interested in forging a global discussion of these topics, and therefore especially welcome contributions from outside North America and Europe.

Applicants are requested to prepare a single .DOC or .PDF file consisting of an abstract no longer than 500 words and a CV; every page of this document should have the applicant’s name in the header. This file should then be sent to with the subject line “Soccer2016” no later than September 1, 2015. Applicants will be notified of in October 2015, and draft papers will be due by March 1, 2015.

The conference organizers–Francesco Erspamer (Romance Languages & Literature), Cemal Kafadar (History), and Mariano Siskind (Romance Languages & Literature)–note that “we hope to cover all (economy class) travel costs, accommodation and meals, pending the availability of funds.”


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