Identity and Belonging (Critic and History of Sport 30.09.2012)
Talking of sport means dealing with different social and political subjects that mutually interact physically as well as verbally: from the leading actor in the field, the athlete, in his competitive engagement with his opponent, to his supporter, the fan, who will back his actions, often lashing out against opposing supporters – even violently so, unfortunately – in strenuous defence of what is acknowledged and shouted out as a sense of belonging, regardless of the final outcome of the contest.
Aside from the athlete and supporter there are also other subjects that lend shape to the myth-making discourse on and of sport: the media, which incisively influence the various narratives, as well as the institutions that actually regulate sporting activities. These range from societies and clubs to – first and foremost – the State itself, which time after time will select its own national heroes, turning them into an embodiment of the country's main political and cultural values, not to mention – as the latest international competition of the European Football Championship has shown – into a sort of mirror for the nation's economic and political problems (particularly revealing, in this respects, have been the words which the President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano addressed to the Italian team after their defeat against Spain in the finals: «There is still a long way to go, there is much to change, and many are the difficult moments we have gone through. (…) Is it football I am speaking of or Italy? The issues are very much alike and this is why the Italians have been so drawn to this extraordinary enterprise»).
The terms which give this issue of "Lancillotto e Nausica" its title, "identity" and "belonging" often designate and represent closed, well-defined, stable and independent realities in media discourse, as well as more generally in common parlance. But is this really their meaning? Is the semantic complexity of these terms not watered down through such a one-sided and limited definition? Would it not be more useful to invest the term "identity" with a performative meaning, that is a dynamic one, by envisaging identity as something that does not simply exist by itself but must rather be constructed? And what is the place of sport in the complex and fascinating process of identity construction, as a discourse on the body and corporeality that is relevant to ethics, politics, economics, aesthetics and indeed fashion, and which gives rise to genuine axiologies? The aim of a careful and detailed analysis such as the one provided by "Lancillotto e Nausica" is to reveal the threads behind this flat surface by showing how each identity is, first and foremost, a dynamic of "identification" based on a range of factors: narrative mechanisms, emotional constructs, the defining and positioning of "us" and "them", and much more besides – elements which find one of their most complete expressions in the arena of sport. As it is true, indeed obvious by now, that no identity can exist without otherness, the analytical gaze may be seen to be most effective precisely when it proves capable of establishing analogies and differences between various terms and realities, which are not bound to be set in contrast, but can remain in a liminal zone – a zone of communication, exchange, and dialogue. The aim of this issue of the magazine, then, is to explore the various ways in which discourses on identity, otherness and belonging come into play and are developed in the context of sport as a cultural system, creating various trajectories of meaning.
The first 2012 issue of "Lancillotto e Nausica. Critica e Storia dello Sport" seeks to analyse the multifaceted problem of identity and belonging in sport through significant case studies.
In keeping with the transdisciplinary nature of the magazine, the call for papers is being sent to all university lecturers, researchers and scholars interested in exploring the matter in depth.
Contributions ranging between 30,000 and 40,000 characters (including spaces) can be sent to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org by and no later than 30 September 2012.
The authors of the papers that will have been selected by the Referees Committee, on a peer review basis, will further be asked to choose a few images to accompany their texts.
As a magazine, "Lancillotto e Nausica. Critica e Storia dello Sport" stands out for the neat graphic layout of its articles. As at least one image per 7,000 characters is usually required, we would ask potential contributors to make provisions – where possible – for sending pictures related to the topic they are discussing.
Paolo Demuru, Eva Ogliotti and Andrea Salvarezza