25 May 2007

Temples of the Earthbound Gods preview

This is the prospectus for my forthcoming book, Temples of theEarthbound Gods. While orientated towards an academic audience, it will be much more readable thatn what follows below. Everything here is of course copyrighted as much as it can possibly be.

Temples of the Earthbound Gods: the Stadiums of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires

Christopher Gaffney

1. Overview

While generally under theorized as geographic objects, stadiums form an integral part of urban landscapes and cultures. As monumental architectural forms, stadiums represent place and senses of individual and collective identity. They provide a stage for the performance of sport and for ritualized combat between sub-cultural groups. Because they are built to control tens of thousands of people, stadiums play an important role in urban political economy, operate as sites of commerce, media production, and the dissemination of political ideologies. Similar to plazas, squares, and markets, a stadium is a nexus of broad-based socio-cultural interaction. This book argues that by entering into cultures through the stadium, a wide range of social interactions and geographic processes can be critically evaluated and compared.

The cultural centrality of stadiums in Latin America has a long history. The ball courts of Maya, Aztec, Zapotec, Mixtec, Hohokam, and Olmec societies functioned as ceremonial sites for the performance of sport and occupied important positions in religious and urban landscapes. The archaeological record informs us that these ancient sporting arenas possessed many of the same symbolic and ritual elements as today’s stadiums. In the late-nineteenth century, modern stadiums appeared on Latin American urban landscapes in response to British and North American political, economic and cultural influences. The proliferation of institutionalized sport in the twentieth century consolidated stadiums as central components of cultural life throughout the region and the world. Throughout this historical span the stadium has continued to function as a universal and dominant element of Latin American societies.

There is no question that sport plays a defining role in the formation of individual and collective identities in Latin America. Latin Americans are generally passionate and informed about beisból or fútbol, and the clash of teams and their fans in local, national and international competitions stirs strong emotions that occasionally turn violent. This is particularly true in Brazil and Argentina where the success of local and national teams on a global stage has solidified soccer as a defining element of national culture. These identities literally take place in the stadium. That is to say, the stadium is a physical realm that allows for the public expression of historically rooted, geographically situated senses of self and belonging. The geographic relationships that extend from the stadium inform and influence culture at multiple scales. Understanding the stadium is a critical, yet overlooked, key to making sense of the histories, geographies and cultures of Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.

This book employs a comparative methodology to investigate and interpret the way cultural differences are manifested in two different key settings for stadium construction and use. Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires provide an ideal basis of comparison because they share similar historical trajectories in terms of urban development, are of relatively equal size and contain vibrant local stadium cultures that have global implications. Temples of the Earthbound Gods describes and compares the historical development and contemporary realities of stadiums in these two cities from the perspective of cultural geography. It answers the questions: What is the historical role of stadiums in Latin American cities? What are the geographic relationships and processes that can be read in the stadiums of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires? How do stadiums inform and influence the public cultures of each city? What are the meanings and conflicts associated with stadiums? How do the very different stadium cultures within each city inform larger socio-cultural conditions? How can local responses to globalizing forces be understood through the stadiums of each city?

2. Rationale

This book will address an important gap in the literature dedicated to Latin American cities and cultures, on the one hand, and a gap in the geographical literature, on the other. Given the importance of stadiums and stadium cultures in Latin America, it is surprising that they have not received sustained academic attention. While there have been numerous studies dedicated to the sociology and anthropology of sporting cultures in Latin America, this will be the first book to examine stadiums in the region as geographic objects. Stadiums have been the focus of increasing attention from academics, especially in the context of urban planning and redevelopment projects in North America and Britain. However, there are no English language studies that examine stadiums in Latin America nor are there studies that undertake a comparative study of stadiums in two different cultures. In order to contextualize the stadiums of each city, this book provides a historical and contemporary examination of the urban and cultural geographies of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.

The importance of stadiums in the cultures of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires is profound. These cities contain two of the most vibrant stadium cultures in the world and are deeply implicated in the global production of sport. The identities associated with soccer teams and their stadiums are historically rooted and preternaturally strong. For instance, in Buenos Aires, Club Atlético Boca Juniors is associated with Genoese immigrants, the working class and a particular geographic region of the city. The club recently began construction of a cemetery next to their stadium because of the overwhelming number of fans who wish to have their ashes scattered on the field – sacred ground indeed. The Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro is perhaps the most famous stadium in the world and has been classified as a national patrimony by the Brazilian government. This is ironic given that the stadium was the site of what was perhaps Brazil’s greatest national tragedy, the loss of the 1950 World Cup final to Uruguay. Despite the negative associations, the Maracanã is a symbol of the city and the nation. It is a repository of social memory that forms an integral part of local and national histories. Buenos Aires contains more than sixty professional soccer stadiums and Rio de Janeiro has more than twenty. Each stadium has strong connections to local communities, contains sedimented layers of meaning and functions as a site and symbol of culture. The symbolic and functional importance of stadiums in the cultural life of these cities is difficult to overstate, yet in most textbooks no mention is made of them despite their presence on the urban landscape for more than a century.

This book will contribute to a growing academic literature dedicated to public space in Latin America. Setha Low’s On The Plaza (University of Texas Press, 1997), Larry Herzog’s From Aztec to High Tech (University of Texas Press, 2002), and Joseph Scarpaci’s Plazas and Barrios (University of Arizona Press, 2004) are all examples of the increased attention to public space in the region. In each of the above texts, the authors undertake an examination of the globalizing forces that impact public space in the urban centers of Latin America. Through an examination of architecture, form, function and morphology of public space these authors demonstrate that by entering into Latin American cultures through particular urban forms (plazas, squares, centros historicos, and shopping malls) larger geographic processes can be evaluated and assessed. Consistent with these authors, I propose a similar model for evaluating culture that will contribute to the growing literature and understanding of public space in Latin America.

There is no question that sport plays a defining role in the formation of individual and collective identities in Latin America. Latin Americans are generally passionate and informed about beisból or fútbol, and the clash of teams and their fans in local, national and international competitions stirs strong passions that occasionally turn violent. This is particularly true in Brazil and Argentina where the success of local and national teams on a global stage has solidified the stadium experience as a defining element of cultural identities. These identities literally take place in the stadium. The geographic relationships that extend from the stadium inform and influence culture at multiple scales. Understanding the stadium is a critical, yet overlooked, key to making sense of the histories, geographies and cultures of Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.

3. Table of Contents

Chapter 1: “Introduction: Stadiums and Public Space in Latin America

Abstract: This chapter examines the role of stadiums in urban cultures in the context of Latin American public space. Drawing on the extensive historical record of sport and the continuing debates over the role of public space in Latin American societies, the introduction traces the historical geography of stadiums in the region. Beginning with the ball courts of pre-Colombian meso-America and continuing to the present day, this chapter positions the stadium as a lens through which larger geographic and cultural processes can be read. It answers the questions: Was the pre-Columbian ball court understood as a space of leisure, religious ceremony, or both? And if it was a place mixing both types of meaning, how can we understand that particular combination from the beginning of the 21st century when places of leisure are generally seen as profane rather than sacred?

The second goal of the introduction is to establish the relationships between multi-scalar geographic processes and the appearance of stadiums in Latin America in the late 19th century. Modern stadiums first appeared in Latin America as a result of the mercantile and political interests of the United States and Great Britain. As Latin American societies became more industrial and urban, stadiums functioned as spaces and places for social integration, socialization and the performance of culturally specific gender, class, ethnic and national identities. By positioning the stadium as a product and symbol of modernity and industrial urbanism, this chapter lays the groundwork for interpreting the stadium as a geographic object. The pervasive influence of stadiums and stadium cultures on Latin American societies is demonstrated by using examples from Mexico, Cuba, Brazil and Argentina.

Chapter 2: “Race, Space and Cultural Transformation in Rio de Janeiro: 1894-1950”

Abstract: This chapter traces the development of stadiums and soccer culture in Rio de Janeiro from their origins in the 1890s to the 1950 World Cup. During this time, soccer evolved from an elite game played in elite spaces to a socio-spatial practice that in many respects defined conceptions of citizenship and the nation. The development of soccer as a central element of Brazilian national identity occurred through identifiable geographic processes. In the early 20th century, the geographic space of the stadium provided a venue for the control and contestation of race and class relations in a highly divided society. By 1950, however, the stadiums of the city had been transformed into a relatively egalitarian place and space that comprised a fundamental component of local and national identities. By describing the role of stadiums in the transformation of Brazilian race and class relationships, this chapter answers the questions: What role did stadiums play in the construction of Brazilian national identity in the early 20th century? How were race and class relations in Rio de Janeiro expressed and contested in the stadium?

Chapter 3: “Stadiums and Society in Rio de Janeiro

Abstract: Chapter three examines the contemporary roles of stadiums in the culture of Rio de Janeiro. The twenty five stadiums of the city are important elements of public culture. Through a contemporary examination of four stadiums within a four kilometer radius, this chapter identifies some of the different histories, identities, cultures, governance structures and geographic conditions that can be found in Rio de Janeiro’s many stadiums. Examination of the shifting symbolism, function and positioning of stadiums in relation to the changing social and cultural dynamics of Rio de Janeiro reveals that the stadiums are excellent barometers for reading the cultural shifts and institutional responses to multi-scalar geographic processes. This chapter answers the questions: What are the geographic meanings associated with stadiums in Rio de Janeiro in the modern era? How are these meanings changing in relation to shifts in the larger culture of the city and nation?

Chapter 4: “Buenos Aires: The City of Stadiums

Abstract: Buenos Aires has more stadiums than any other city in the world. The development of stadiums in Buenos Aires is inexorably bound to the historical development of the city. In the mid to late 19th century, Britain was Argentina’s largest trading partner. The approximately 40,000 British ex-patriates developed their own schools, sporting clubs and social spaces. Eventually, the British sporting practices of polo, rugby, and soccer reached the local population. During the periods of massive European immigration to Buenos Aires, neighborhood social clubs functioned as mechanisms for social integration. Each of these social clubs had soccer teams while local elites played polo or rugby. The struggle to find space to develop stadiums in a rapidly growing city resulted in conflicts that were resolved through political and economic mechanisms. The development of a multitude of stadiums in the city was a natural outgrowth of the association between social clubs, politicians and the struggle for urban space. Consistent with other cities in Latin America, Buenos Aires developed a very masculine public culture. The stadiums were part of a larger matrix of male-dominated public space - one that allowed for the virulent expression of masculine identities. Through a historical examination of the formation of public space in Buenos Aires, this chapter answers the questions: Why did Buenos Aires develop more stadiums than any other city in the world? What are the historical relationships between stadiums and public culture in Buenos Aires? What are the particular cultural characteristics of stadiums in Buenos Aires?

Chapter 5: “Class and Conflict in the Stadiums of Buenos Aires

Abstract: Argentine soccer, rugby, and polo teams compete at the highest international level. These three sports have very different historical and geographic associations and between them delimit the totality of socio-political and socio-economic structures in Argentina. This chapter examines the different actors and geographies associated with soccer, rugby, and polo stadiums in Buenos Aires. Each sport has very different geographic and political associations with the nation. The relatively privileged positions of rugby and polo tend to reify existing socio-economic and political structures, while soccer tends towards a kind of populist violence against the state. The stadium cultures of these three sports reveal different conceptions of masculinity, citizenship, and behavioral norms. This chapter demonstrates that the contemporary cultures and actors involved in these three stadium cultures are historically rooted and constitute very different geographical worlds that explain class and conflict in the city and nation.

Chapter 6: “Conclusion: Comparative Cultural Urbanism”

Abstract: The concluding chapter compares the stadiums of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires in terms of meaning and representation, organization and governance, and local responses to globalizing forces. Even though the stadiums of each city developed in response to similar processes, the stadium cultures of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires are very different. By positioning the stadium as a medium to compare culture, this chapter demonstrates that local responses to similar global forces may be similar or different. Understanding the everyday geographic processes through which local cultures are connected to the global provides deep insight into the culture of each city.


Anonymous said...

This is an interesting post! I didnt realize that when I went to one of the Buenos Aires hotels, and visit el "Monumental" to see River Plate play.

soulpower67 said...

ye, sounds interesting book, just recently returned from buenos aires, managed to see 7 games at 7 different staduims, definately the city of staduims


2014 World Cup Rio de Janeiro Maracanã FIFA 2016 Olympics 2016 Summer Olympics Eduardo Paes CBF Copa do Mundo 2014 Rio de Janeiro Olympics Ricardo Texeira World Cup 2014 Vasco da Gama 2010 World Cup White Elephants mega-events APO UPP BRT Brazil football Flamengo Lula Orlando Silva violence ANT Aldeia Maracana Carlos Nuzman Dilma Eike Batista Rio 2016 Sergio Cabral 2007 Pan American Games Campeonato Carioca Corruption IOC Jerome Valcke Novo Maracanã stadiums BOPE BRASIL 2016 Brasil 2014 Engenhao Joao Havelange Maracana Policia Militar Vila Autódromo Aldo Rebelo Botafogo Henrique Meirelles Medida Provisoria Metro Revolta do Vinagre Sao Paulo Sepp Blatter World Cup 2010 forced removal Carnaval Elefantes Brancos Fechadao Marcia Lins Minerao Morumbi Odebrecht Porto Maravilha Rio+20 Romario Security Walls South Africa South Africa 2010 TCU Transoeste protests public money public transportation slavery transparency x-Maracana Andrew Jennings Argentina Audiencia Publica Barcelona Brazil Carvalho Hosken Comitê Popular Confederatons Cup Copa do Brasil 2010 Cost overruns Crisis of Capital Accumulation EMOP FERJ Favela do Metro Fluminense Fluminese Fonte Novo IMX Jose Marin Leonel Messi London 2012 Marcelo Freixo Maré Museu do Indio Olympic Delivery Authority Perimetral Rocinha Soccerex Transcarioca bicycles consumer society debt idiocy militarization transportation 1995 Rugby World Cup 2004 Olympics 2015 Copa America Banco Imobiliario Barcas SA Belo Horizonte Bom Senso F.C. Brasilerao CDURP CONMEBOL Champions League. Mourinho Complexo do Alemão Copa Libertadores Cupula dos Povos ESPN England FiFA Fan Fest Istanbul 2020 Jogos Militares John Carioca Kaka Manaus McDonald's Obama Olympic Village PPP Paralympics Providencia Recife Russia Salvador Soccer City Taksim Square Tatu-bola Urban Social Forum Vidigal Vila Olimpica War World Cup Xaracana attendance figures cities corrupcao drugs estadios football frangueiro futebol mafia planejamento urbano police repression porn privitization reforms shock doctrine taxes 201 2010 Elections 2010 Vancouver Olypmics 2013 2018 World Cup 2030 Argentina / Uruguay ABRAJI AGENCO ANPUR ANT-SP Amazonia Ancelmo Gois Andrade Gutierrez Anthony Garotinho Arena Amazonia Arena Pernambucana Athens Atlético Paranaense Avenida das Americas BID Barra de Tijuca Blatter Brasil x Cote d'Iviore Brasileirão 2013 Brasilia Brasilierao Bruno Souza Bus fares COB COI COMLURB CPI CPO Cabral Caixa Economica Canal do Anil Cantagalo Celio de Barros Cesar Maia Chapeu Mangueira Chile 2015 Choque do Ordem Cidade da Copa Class One Powerboat Racing Clint Dempsey Comite Companhia das Docas Copa do Brasil Corinthians Cuiabá Curitiba Dave Zrin David Harvey Der Spiegel Eastwood Edge of Sports Escola Friendenrich Expo Estadio Expo Urbano FGV Fonte Nova Gamboa Garotinho Geostadia Ghana Globo Greek Debt Crisis Greek Olympics HBO Hipoptopoma IMG IPHAN ISL Iniesta Internatinal Football Arena Invictus Istanbul Itaquerao Jacque Rogge Jefferson John Coates Jose Beltrame Julio Grondona Julio Lopes Julio de Lamare Knights Templar Korea Lei Geral da Copa MAR MEX Manchester United Mangabeira Unger Maracanã. Soccerex Marina da Gloria Mexico Milton Santos Molotov Cocktail Mr.Balls Neymar Nicholas Leoz Nilton Santos Olympic Flag Olympic Park Project Oscar Niemeyer Pacaembu Pan American Games Parque Olimpico Pernambuco Plano Popular Plano Popular do Maracana Plano Popular do Maracanã Play the Game Pope Porto Alegre Porto Olimpico Porto Seguro Portuguesa Praca Tiradentes Preview Projeto Morrinho Putin Qatar Quatar 2022 RSA Realengo Regis Fichtner Roberto Dinamite Russia 2018 SETRANS SMH Santa Teresa Santos Sao Raimundo Sargento Pepper Security Cameras Smart City Sochi 2014 South Korea Stormtroopers São Januário São Paulo Teargas Templars Tokyo 2020 Tropa do Elite II Turkey UFRJ/IPPUR URU USA USA! Unidos da Tijuca United States government Urban Age Conference VVIP Via Binário Victory Team Vila Autodromo Vila Cruzeiro Vila do Pan Vilvadao Vivaldao Volta Alice Wasteland Workers' Party World Cup 2018 Xavi Zurich apartments atrazos barrier beer bio-fuels bonde capacities civil society comite popular copa sudamericana crack crime dengue dictatorship estádios favelalógica feira livre fiador flooding freedom of information furos geral graffiti guarda municipal host city agreement identity infrastructure ipanema istoe labor rape riots schedule school shooting security segregation social movements stadium state of exception supervia tear gas ticket prices torcidas organizadas tourism traffic tragedy trash trem-bala velodromo wikileaks xingar