SDP and postcolonial theory

Authored by: Martha Saavedra

Routledge Handbook of Sport for Development and Peace

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  October  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138210486
eBook ISBN: 9781315455174
Adobe ISBN:


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Postcolonial theory emerged in the late 1970s as a paradigm for examining the consequences and legacies of colonialism. With respect to sport for development and peace (SDP) theory, research and practice, this chapter introduces postcolonial theory, examines how ‘it’ has been and could be used. The first section discusses how postcolonial theory serves as a critical ‘history of the present’ and is connected to the concept and practice of ‘development’. The second section explores five concepts in postcolonial theory – discourse, hegemony, hybridity, agency, and the subaltern – that are relevant to SDP. The third section provides examples of postcolonial analyses of contemporary sport, highlighting several major contributions, especially in the understanding of cricket. A review of scholarship that explicitly applies postcolonial theory to the realm of sport, development and peace follows. A key question is how SDP might perpetuate or challenge inequalities in power, resources and influence. The fourth section tackles critiques and problems in using postcolonial theory in SDP, particularly around appropriate indicators for both qualitative and quantitative analysis. The chapter ends with suggestions for next steps, including more inclusive and accessible research as well as systematic efforts to imagine a future that both incorporates and transcends the postcolonial frame.

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