World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010

 < NOT_DEFINED backto SUMMARY OF PANELS

Le sport dans les pays du Moyen Orient et d’Afrique du Nord. Enjeux sociaux et symboliques (073) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel
 

· NOT_DEFINED date: TUE 20, 9.00-11.00 am

· NOT_DEFINED institution: Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble (France)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Michel Raspaud

· NOT_DEFINED language: English / Français

· NOT_DEFINED description: Si le sport est aujourd’hui un spectacle mondialisé avec ses grandes manifestations ritualisées à périodicités régulières, il s’agit aussi d’une activité organisée par des fédérations et des clubs, qui constitue un enjeu politique pour les Etats et économiques pour les entreprises qui s’y investissent en tant que fabricants (chaussures, vêtements, matériels…) ou sponsors (partenaires économiques), et pour les médias qui retransmettent le spectacle. Aussi, le sport ne laisse-t-il nullement indifférent.
Inscrit dans les programmes d’éducation physique des établissements scolaires, pratiqué dans la rue par les enfants et adolescents, objet de mise en scène vestimentaires par le biais des maillots de clubs portés par les jeunes ou moins jeunes et qui font « signe », il est un « fait social total » (Marcel Mauss) traversé par de multiples enjeux sociaux : politiques, économiques, sociaux, symboliques…
Quelle est aujourd’hui la place faite au sport dans les sociétés du Moyen Orient et de l’Afrique du Nord ? Quelles sont les politiques mises en place par les Etats ? Tout individu, garçon ou fille, homme ou femme, peut-il accéder au sport de son choix, peut-il s’investir à son gré dans un club ou une fédération, pour les faire vivre mais aussi se réaliser socialement ?
Quels enjeux symboliques le sport représente-t-il pour les Etats sur la scène internationale, sur la scène intérieure ? Comment les populations s’identifient-elles aux champions locaux ou nationaux, aux équipes des villes et des pays ? Qu’est-ce que les compétitions mettent en scène sur les plans local, national et international, et qui renvoie aux communautés imaginées (Benedict Anderson) et au symbolique dans les pays du Moyen-Orient et d’Afrique du Nord ? Comment des pays divisés vivent-ils ses aspects ?

Chair : Michel Raspaud, Université Joseph Fourier Grenoble (France)

Paper Presenter : Driss Abassi, Université du Sud Toulon (France), ‘‘Le sport international au Maghreb : un paradigme identitaire et/ou une propagande politique ?’’

La haute compétition la plus contemporaine (Coupe du monde de football, Coupe d’Afrique des Nations, Jeux méditerranéens) est un thème d’étude qui permet d’analyser l’institution sportive comme dispositif culturel d’orientation idéologique et ressource (symbolique) de mobilisation identitaire dans les pays du Maghreb. La présente communication s’intéresse donc à l’usage politique et culturel du sport. Elle s’attache à rendre compte des enjeux politiques et idéologiques du sport et sa mutation à l’époque postcoloniale au travers l’analyse de quelques cas de manifestations sportives internationales organisées en Afrique du Nord.
Dans ce cadre, l’étude portera notamment sur la forte implication du sport dans la mise en œuvre et/ou la mise en scène médiatique de l’hégémonisme des idéologies et des institutions étatiques. Mais il est question aussi d’une approche du phénomène des constructions identitaires dans des sociétés complexes et en voie de transformation comme celles du monde maghrébin. Autrement dit, il s’agit de distinguer entre ce qui relève de la promotion propagandiste des régimes en place et ce qui est de l’ordre de la fabrique et de la diffusion des paradigmes identitaires et des nationalismes endogènes en interne mais également en externe. Le sport international apparaît alors comme une réponse possible aux nouvelles configurations identitaires autour du concept plus large de « diversité culturelle » ; champ revendicatif incluant et dépassant à la fois le monde maghrébin. Le propos est particulièrement éclairant lorsqu’il pointe l’impact de ces manifestations sportives internationales sur les « diasporas » en Europe et ailleurs.

Paper Presenter : G. Whitney Azoy, American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, Afghanistan’s ‘Goat Game’’.

Buzkashi (goat dragging) is a spectacular, volatile, and often violent equestrian game of Turkic peoples in northern Afghanistan. Central Asian in origin, buzkashi also occurs, mostly as a self-conscious folkloristic survival, in the Muslim republics north of Afghanistan and in China’s Xinjiang Province. Since the 1980s Afghan refugees have sometimes played in Pakistan.
Buzkashi originated with nomadic forebearers of the same Turkic peoples (Uzbek, Turkomen, Kazakh, Kirghiz) who are it core players today. These groups spread westwards from China and Mongolia between the tenth and fifteenth centuries. The game quite likely developed, in much the same way as American rodeo, as a recreational variant of everyday herding or raiding activity.
Other ethnic groups in northern Afghanistan have recently entered the culture of buzkashi: Tajiks, Hazaras, and even Pushtun migrants from south of the Hindu Kush. Beginning in the early 1950s the Kabul-based central government hosted national tournaments, first on the birthday of King Mohammed Zahir and then on anniversaries advantageous to subsequent regimes. As central authority collapsed during the Afghan-Soviet War (1979-1989), so did the tournament.
Buzkashi has two main forms: traditional-grassroots game (tudabarai) and modern-governmental sport (qarajai). Both feature powerful horses and riders who struggle for control of a goat or calf carcass. While regarded primarily as playful fun, both forms of buzkashi also exist as an implicitly political arena in which patron/sponsors seek to demonstrate and thus enhance their capacity for controlling events.
Sponsors own champion horses, hire specialized riders (chapandazan), and ceremonial gatherings (toois) in which buzkashi is played. In traditional northern Afghanistan, sponsorship is exercised by khans, elite members the informal, ever-shifting power structure. A tooi’s centerpiece is a day or several days of buzkashi: a status-oriented initiative in which the social, economic, and political resources of the khan sponsor (tooi-wala) are publicly tested. If those resources prove sufficient and the tooi is a success, its sponsor's "name will rise." If not, the tooi-wala's reputation can be ruined.
Some traditional games (tudabarai) involve hundreds of riders with no formal teams or spatial boundaries. The expert chapandazan dominate play, but “everyone has the right.” The tudabarai objective is to gain sole control of the carcass and ride it free and clear of all other riders. “Free and clear,” however, is difficult to adjudicate, and disputes are frequent. Violent play can then shift to real violence. Such shifts discredit the tooi sponsor.
Government sponsored qarajai buzkashi is more standardized and thus easier to control. Two teams, seldom more than a dozen riders, compete within a bounded field with specified scoring flags and circles. The Kabul tournament referees were typically military officers, and quarrelsome riders were threatened with prison. Government control over previously volatile buzkashi was complete by the last pre-Marxist era tournament (1977). The increasing inability of Marxist leaders to bring the game to Kabul and stage it successfully compromised the prestige of their regimes. The effort was abandoned after 1982. Resistance commanders in the countryside began sponsoring their own buzkashis.

Paper Presenter : Nadim Nassif, Université Joseph Fourier Grenoble (France)/ Notre-Dame University (Lebanon), ‘‘Sport in Lebanon from 1991 to 2010. Interference of politics and absence of policy’’.

After 15 years of war and destructions, the Lebanese sport movement had almost stopped and the sport standards went significantly down; at the time when international sport entered an era of professionalism that has boosted its standards to a level that seem impossible to reach for a state like Lebanon; which, in addition to its small population and weak economy, had suffered 15 years of conflicts.
1991 marked the first year of the post-war period. For the population, it was the time to dress the wounds. The main goal of the government was the country’s reconstruction and the rehabilitation of a devastated economy. Secondary or minor sectors like sport, which already were not deeply anchored in the Lebanese culture before the outburst of the war in 1975, were put on hold. This lack of interest is one of the main reasons why, until now, a Lebanese national sport policy is not yet clearly formulated.
Actually, the Lebanese sport structure is constituted by the following main actors: The Government (represented by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Youth and Sports), the Lebanese Olympic Committee, the national federations and the clubs. It is important to note that an official structure for participation, corporate (private and public companies), regional or elite sport do not existed yet.
The model of most of the different sport bodies, like most of the administrative bodies in Lebanon, is inspired by the French model. This is actually the case of most of the countries that have emerged from under the French colonialism.
It took more than 10 years after the end of the war for the Lebanese Government to enact measures defining the functioning of the Lebanese sport system. Although these 2 measures (Decree 6997/ 2001, Law 629/ 2004) explain, to a certain extent, the functioning of the Lebanese sport mechanism, they do not give any outline or objective of the sport policy undertaken by the Government. They do not provide also any source of information on the financing of this structure, which until today does not follow any logical order. This absence of a budget distribution system and the low budget in the hand of the Lebanese Ministry of Youth and Sport (0.4% of the Government budget) is strongly affecting the federations, clubs and licensees that are struggling to work towards long-term plan and achieve durable success.
Lebanese sport suffers also from another issue: the centralization of its system. More than 90% of the country’s sport “system” is around Beirut and its suburbs. When a big part of the territory of the country is not properly exploited, the size of the sport movement will undoubtedly be reduced. The lack of mass participation and sport culture in the country is largely due to the lack of work undertaken by the State and sport authorities to develop sport in the different Lebanese regions. But are the latter really interested in developing sport programs, or are they there to satisfy the interests of their political party or religious groups?

Paper Presenter : Mahfoud Amara, Loughborough University (UK), ‘‘Sport, Internationalism and Regionalism Debates in the Arab-Muslim World: between 'Modernity' and 'Authenticity'’’.

The aim of the presentation is to illustrate elements of internationalism and regionalism through sport in the Arab world. In the aftermath of independence, the appropriation of the dominant model of sport by newly independent countries was seen as inevitable, taking into account the multiple uses of sport as an element for political, social and cultural recognitions. Sport played an important role for nation states building and for populist mobilisation around Party-states’ and Monarchy-states’ ideologies. Furthermore, Sport became a mean (at list in the rhetoric of Pan-Arab Ideology) for cooperation, integration and unification between Arab populations. As for today, in the alleged era of globalisation, sport is an ingredient of the general strategy of transformation from socialism (or controlled liberalism) to market economy. To this end, the strategy for staging international sport competitions has taken a significant dimension lately in the Arabian Golf region, reaching thus an unprecedented level when Qatar hosted the Asian Games in 2006 (with a budget of 2,8 Billion dollars and a cumulative audience of 1.5 Billion, it is the second biggest international sport event after the Olympic games). The Pan Arab Games, as a forum to promote Arab unity (in crisis today) and the Pan Islamic Games, as an opportunity to rebuild a sense of Islamic unity and reinforce the universal values of Islam as the second largest religion in the world, are illustrative examples of regional (with a universalist dimension for the latter) engagement with the international sport arena.

Paper Presenter : Aditi Surie von Czechowski, Columbia University (USA), ‘‘Politics and football hooliganism in Algeria and Egypt’’.

This paper will focus on the consequences of two International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) matches between Egypt and Algeria in 2009. How can we characterize the fan violence and related media frenzy associated with both matches? The animosity between fans of both countries and subsequent official responses to football fan violence are illuminating in terms of both internal and external relations of power. I argue that football hooliganism takes on a new meaning in this particular landscape of repressive politics, and should be seen in this context as a historically conditioned ritualized performance of contentious politics, rather than as an isolated incident of social disruption.
Furthermore, this form of contentious politics is rooted in an historically determined repertoire of action and is legitimized and perverted by the government before taking on a life of its own.