I am writing to let you know about our latest "New Books in Sports" interview with Natalie Koch, Associate Professor of Geography at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, and editor of Critical Geographies of Sport: Space, Power, and Sport in Global Perspective (Routledge, 2017.
In Critical geographies, Koch joins other scholars to address a wide range of sports issues, including the demolition of South Korea’s Dongdaemun baseball stadium, professional wrestling in the territorial era in the United States, and the identity politics of the Gaelic Athletic Association. An emphasis on space and the ways that space embodies power and power relations, underpins the volume’s diverse offerings and draws them into fruitful conversation with each other.
The collected essays fall into two categories: the first half of the book examines sports, geopolitics, and the state. Here Koch offers her own fascinating analysis of authoritarian leaders – including Mao Zedong, Vladimir Putin, and Sheikh Zayed – and their use of sports to promote the legitimacy of their regime and their own cult of personality. Koch is especially careful to differentiate between the distinct masculine discourses at work in China, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates and the way those discourses made use of the divergent topographies of their countries: tundra, desert and massive river delta.
The second half of the book deals with sports, community, and urban space. Here authors address the opportunities and limitations offered by sports as a tool of social assimilation and integration; the role stadium projects play in the neo-liberalization of public spaces; and the problematic politics of megaevents.
In a coda, Koch and David Jansson provoke further questions by gesturing towards the role social justice can play in critical sports geography.
Each one of these essays in this volume offers enticing insights into the ways that power and space intersect in the sports sphere. Geographers interested in the field of critical sports geography should read this book but scholars generally interested in questions of sports, power, and space are also encouraged to check out this compelling work.
The "New Books in Sports" network features discussions with sports scholars about their most recent books. It is a part of the "New Books Network," a consortium of podcasts exploring recent publications across a wide range of fields. The podcasts can also be accessed via iTunes where a free subscription option is available.
Please contact me off-list if you have any recent book suggestions.
Lecturer, Macquarie University