Call for Papers

“Sporting Subalternities and Social Justice
University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa)
10th to 12th April 2017

With an aim to promote and champion the African Sport Studies as a valuable interdisciplinary arena, in February 2004, the Ohio University hosted the first edition of ‘Sport in Africa’ Conference. Over the last 10 editions of this conference, between 2004 and 2014, a variety of themes were addressed, including Youth, Gender, Health, Communication, Development, Politics, Globalization and Global South, bringing together sport scholars and practitioners from African, American and European Universities. Continuing this agenda to advance research and knowledge on African Sport Studies, the Institute of Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State, South Africa will host the 11th edition of the Conference under its new name: Sports Africa[i]. The theme for this year’s conference is:

Sporting Subalternities and Social Justice

In asking: “how does sport help us better understand the richness and complexities of African experiences, in the past and present?”, Peter Alegi neatly sets out the central agenda for the conference.[ii] Pursuing this question in the quest to advance knowledge and debate in the field, the 2017 Sports Africa Conference will focus on the structures and relations of power within which sports are negotiated, accessed, practiced and experienced in the everyday on this vast and diverse continent of Africa, as well as those who remain connected to Africa in different parts of the world. It is to these ends that the concepts of subaltern, subalternity and social justice serve as themes for the 11th edition of the Sports Africa Conference.

Drawing from the intellectual project of Subaltern Studies that attends to the embodied practices and activities of those ‘who do not produce large bodies of texts of their own’,[iii] Sporting Subalternities is conceptualised to encompass all those experiences, spaces, activities and participants of sport who are unlikely to make news headlines or find their voices or stories heard among the hegemonic discourses. Not only that the Subaltern Studies offers useful ways to learn and understand subaltern socialities and experiences, the scholarship in the field tend to valorise, draw on and engage with various forms and acts of subaltern agency, intra-group power relations, politics and resistance.[iv] Similarly, Sporting Subalternities calls for attention to concerns of social (in)justices within the layers and multitudes of sport practices and experiences. Above and beyond, it takes account of all the intermediary, specific, peculiar and contradictory ways in which relations of power are shaped, performed, struggled over and social meanings these take on in the context of sport. Such a project would necessarily mean engaging with, deconstructing and complicating the many layers of centers and peripheries that compose sporting processes and experiences of the subaltern. The aim of this conference is to propose and inspire ways of thinking about and studying African Sports that challenges and disrupts established models and taken-for-granted understandings of Africa and sport.

Call for Papers

To this end, conference organizers invite paper proposals from anthropological, humanities, sociological, historical, socio-cultural, geographical, political, economic, policy and other multi- and inter-disciplinary perspectives. Please send us a 300 word abstract, along with a title, name of the author(s) and institutional affiliation, by 20th December 2016, on the following (but not limited to) sub-themes:


  • Trans-national and Transcontinental Athlete Migration
  • Sports Geopolitics and Neoliberalism
  • Sports Media and Communication
  • Sports in Education Systems
  • Colonial and Postcolonial Policies in Sport Development
  • Access to Sport in Urban and Rural Africa
  • Sport Infrastructure and Stadiums
  • Sports Management and Business
  • Sport as a Contested Space
  • Para-athletes and Paralympics
  • Gendered Sites of Sport
  • Fan Culture and Passive Consumption of Sport
  • Memory and Heritage
  • (Un)Fairness and Social (In)Equalities
  • Sporting Citizenries, Citizenships and Identities
  • Sports Governance and Politics
  • Beyond Youth Sports
  • Reflexive and Auto-Ethnography
  • Sports in Art, Media, Film and Literature
  • Special Topics

Presentation Options
Oral Presentation

The Oral panel consists of 20 minutes presentation on each paper by the author(s) in a panel of 3 to 4 presenters, followed by question-answer and discussions.

Virtual Presentation
The Virtual panels will facilitate paper presentation by author(s) who are unable to attend the conference in person, but keen to share, engage with and get feedback on their research with the conference participants.

Roundtable (Closed Panel)
The Roundtable consists of discussions on selected topics concerning research, pedagogy, knowledge production and scholarship on African Sport Studies and the role such conferences can play in promoting these. Short essay-presentation by selected (keynote) speakers will set the agenda for debate and discussion.

The Workshop panels consist of pre-circulated papers, uploaded on the online system. These sessions are aimed at more engaged and critical scholarly discussions and feedback on the pre-circulated papers rather than presentation of the paper by the author. Each paper will be allocated a discussant/reviewer, with a goal to get the paper published in a special issue of a journal.

Keynote Speakers to be announced

Important Dates
Submit Abstracts for Presentation at the Conference by: 20th December, 2016
Notification of Acceptance by: 21st January 2017
Submission of Full Draft Papers by: 1st March 2017
Registration and Payment of Fees by: 15th March 2017
Conference Workshops: 10th April 2017
Conference Panel Presentations: 11th, 12th & 13th April 2017

[i] The name of the conference from “Sport in Africa” to “Sports Africa” was changed with a view that the new name is more inclusive of all forms of African sports, regardless of their geographical location or affiliation.
[ii] Sports in Africa Group: Ten Years On (video)
[iii] Chatterjee, P., 2012. After subaltern studies. Economic and Political Weekly 47, 44–49.
[iv] Kapoor, I., 2004. Hyper‐self‐reflexive development? Spivak on representing the Third World ―Other.‖ Third World Quarterly 25, 627–647.
Spivak, G., 1990. Gayatri Spivak on the politics of the subaltern, interview by Howard Winant. Socialist Review 20, 81–97.
Spivak, G.C., 2004. Righting wrongs. The South Atlantic Quarterly 103, 523–581. Spivak, G.C., 1996. The Spivak Reader, ed. Donna Landry and Gerald MacLean. Spivak, G.C., 1995. Can the subaltern speak? In, B. Ashcroft, G. Grifiths, & H. Tiffin. The Postcolonial Studies Reader.