Boundary disputes: New approaches to the interaction between sport and politics in the postwar years

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Although often framed as politics ultimate ‘other’, it is hard to ignore that sport and the political are intimately connected. Historians, however, have up until now hardly reflected on the nature of this connection in the postwar years, on how the politicisation of sport has actually taken shape, and how actors and institutions have delineated, navigated, and crossed the boundaries between the two. This article tackles these questions through an analysis of three vectors of politicisation: political communication, struggles over the use of space, and governance and policy making. Based on a discussion of recent work at the intersection of political history, sport history, political science, geography, and communication studies, the article unearths the relationship between sport and personalised modes of political representation, explores the role of sport spaces as sites of community building and conflict, and the instrumentalisation of sport in policy schemes of the welfare state. It shows how policy schemes and governance arrangements drew sport into the orbit of the state; maps the various actors and institutions at the intersection of sport and politics, ranging from local residents’ groups to international non-governmental organisations; and highlights the gendered, exclusionary nature of new, popular forms of political communication through sport. All in all, the article makes the case for sport as a highly relevant field to engage with for those who are interested in the postwar history of political power, representation, communication, and governance.




Kaal, H. (2021). Boundary disputes: New approaches to the interaction between sport and politics in the postwar years. Journal of Modern European History, 19(3), 362–379.

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