Course Name: Soccer and Identity
Instructor: Stephen Naumann
Soccer (or football, if you prefer) is a language spoken essentially everywhere in the world. Allegiance to a particular national or club team can mold a person's identity, influencing how one perceives and is perceived across racial, ethnic, religious, national, social, political and economic lines. What are some of the effects of this power invested in sport? What happens when the lines are blurred? What can soccer teach us about global, economic and political trends?
This course draws on a range of texts, films and media sources that enable students to ask questions about the role sport can have in molding identity in society as they consider a research topic. The two main texts, Franklin Foer's How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization and Simon Kuper's Soccer against the Enemy, provide a host of identity anecdotes from societies across the globe and will provide a wide range of ideas to help students pursue a topic. Does the influx of multiethnic players representing the national team in France, Germany and Italy change people's perception of their own identity in those countries? How can a Chelsea fan with a Jewish background engage in anti-Semitic chants when playing rival Tottenham? Can we infer anything from comparing the United States' success in women's soccer and struggles' in men's soccer? Do European and Latin American clubs really represent political ideals? We will examine a number of societies across the globe, reflecting on the way soccer has influenced the way people think and act.