CFP: Visualising the Game. Global Perspectives on Football in Africa
Conference, 28-30 January 2010 in Basel (Switzerland) at the Basler Afrika Bibliographien
This conference is part of a broader collaboration between South African and Swiss institutions, namely the District Six Museum, the University of the Western Cape, the Basler Afrika Bibliographien, the University of Basel, the Sportmuseum Schweiz, and the International Centre for Sport Studies. This collaboration includes the parallel display of the District Six Museum's exhibition "football in Cape Town" in Basel and Cape Town from January to July 2010.
The conference aims at exploring different visual dimensions of the game in and beyond the football arena. The overarching topic is conceived in a braod sense. First, "visualising the game" means to make African football and African football players more "visible" in academic research and consideration. Second, the topic of visuality may serve as a lens to gain a deeper understanding of the social, cultural, political and economical embeddedness of football in different historical contexts, as well as on a local, national or global level.
Football, in many ways, is a visual endeavour. From the visual experience within the stadium itself to world-wide media representations, from advertisements to football art and artefacts, fotball is much about seeing and being seen, about watching, making visual and being visualised, about representing and being represented. The upcoming FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa has already turned into a perfect example of some of the visual dimensions of football. Stadiums are being built and marketed as tourist attractions, video clips and internet platforms are advertising South African cities and venues, logos and emblems are displayed and celebrated, exhibitions are planned and prepared in mueums world-wide.
The conference welcomes contributions on different periods and geographical regions as well as from different disciplinary backgrounds. Contributions may consider pictures and images of football and football players, as well as their social and cultural role in colonial or postcolonial contexts, they may consider the activity and social contexts of seeing, watching, and being seen in and beyond the football arena, or may question how football is made visible (or what remains "invisible" and hidden), how it is perceived (or unperceived), how images of football players, games and stadiums are produced and spread through photographs, posters, films, videos, art or artefacts, and how these images generate stereotypes or may have been also utilised for political purposes.
The conference is comprised of three major subthemes which are closely linked to each other:
TOP 1: Seeing and being seen: Places and spaces of football and visuality
The process of visualising the game is related to different places and spaces inside and outside the football arena, ranging from the stadium itself to a museum, from the private televsion in one's living room to a public viewing or a mega-event that sometimes thousands or even millions of people attend. First, this section examines local places where the game, its players and its fans are made visible and being seen, such as the local football stadium, public viewing, a fan party, or museums, etc. Second, this panel investigates the interrelations between local, translocal and globalised spaces of visuality, football "media-scapes" of world-wide media coverage, internet platforms and advertisement. Third, this section follows the paths and tracks of images, pictures and media representations of African football players themselves and analyses how they are represented or perceived locally and globally as either ambassadors or personifications of specific places and spaces.
TOP 2: The "visible" and the "invisible" game: Re-inventing football through visual means
The introduction of television coverage, in particular, has heavily changed the performance and perception of football. This section considers the ambivalent relations bweteen the invention of the game through images, which are far from just "mirroring" the match, the deliberate use of media images by players and fans in order to make themselves visible in media coverage (such as the "corner-flag lambada"), and changing forms of watching, interpreting and controlling the match, because of varying facilities of seeing the game. In addition, we would like to raise questions about the gendered representation of football, i.e. the almost none existing visual representation of women's football. This section raises all kinds of questions of how imaginaries of the game are produced in photographs, films, and television coverage, what did they show in different historical contexts and what remained hidden, and how can we explore pictures for our own reseacrh into football.
TOP 3: Playing with images: Visualising football in art, advertisement and artefacts
The popularity of football has encouraged the production of a broad range of images in art, advertisement and artefacts, such as fanzines, football fashion, emblems or souvenirs, which are inspired by the game and have often become part of our visual experience of football. Already during the colonial period, football comics and cartoons were employed in Africa in order to advertise European commodities. Nowadays, we come across pictures of African football players in consumer advertising all around the world. Posters, newspapers, magazines and fanzines produce different kinds of images of football and football players. Art and artefacts employ the football metaphor with various intentions. Film productions consider social and cultural functions of football in Africa. All these images have been produced for fun and distraction. However, some may also further the creation of gender construction, stereotypes and racism; others may encourage cross-cultural solidarity and anti-racist projects.
Contributions may focus on one or several topics of these interconnected themes. We welcome paper proposals on different periods and geographic areas in or related to Africa as well as from different acadmic perspectives.
Please submit a 250 word abstract along with a short CV to all three conference organisers by 10 June 2009.
Applicants will be notified via e-mail around 10 July 2009.
The conference will take place at the Basler Afrika Bibliographien, Klosterberg 21-23, CH-4001 Basel, Switzerland, 28-30 January 2010.
Selected conference papers are expected to be published in an edited collection. Final papers are supposed to be submitted before 10 January 2010.
Giorgio Miescher, Basler Afrika Bibliographien, (gm-at-baslerafrika.ch)
Susann Baller, History Department, University of Basel (susann.baller-at-unibas.ch)
Raffaele Poli, International Centre for Sport Studies (raffaele.poli-at-unine.ch)