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Seminar: Sport and Peace-Building in Divided Societies (John Sugden, University of Brighton)

  • Stirling Court Hotel (Blair Room) Stirling Court Hotel, University of Stirling Stirling, Scotland, FK9 4LA United Kingdom (map)
In divided communities, sport has been an agent of separation, sectarian hatred and violence, but also a highly effective tool for conflict resolution, reconciliation and peace-building
— John Sugden
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Talk Summary

The title of this seminar mirrors that of John's latest book written with Alan Tomlinson (published in 2017) and provides a comprehensive and practice- grounded critical analysis of programmes using sport for peace-building and reconciliation work in seriously fractured and deeply divided societies. The seminar is a joint event organised by the Faculty of Health Sciences & Sport Research Seminar Series at the University of Stirling and the Political Studies Association Annual Conference 2018 - 'Sport, Policy and Politics: Interdisciplinary Perspectives'. Please note the venue change (16/02/18).


John's Bio

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John Sugden is Professor of the Sociology of Sport at the University of Brighton where he is a preeminent member of the Centre of Sport, Tourism and Leisure Studies. He is also co-founder and director of the University’s in-house non-governmental organisation, the celebrated sport-based co-existence and conflict resolution programme, Football 4 Peace International.

Articulated through the lens of critical sociology, John has researched on, taught and written extensively in the area of sport and peace building in divided societies and is widely considered to be one of the subject area’s founding figures and leading authorities. 

John is also well known for his work on the sociology of boxing; and with his colleague Alan Tomlinson for their tireless investigative and transformative work into malpractice in world football’s governing body FIFA, an extensive corpus of work which has made a significant contribution to the downfall of disgraced former FIFA President Sepp Blatter and FIFA’s house of corruption. This ongoing saga is covered extensively in their latest book, ‘Football, Corruption and Lies: Revisiting 'Badfellas', the book FIFA tried to ban. This work sits comfortably alongside John’s distinctive and acclaimed undercover investigative work into professional football’s underground economy.

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Seminar Abstract

This seminar follows the structure of the aforementioned book, 'Sport and Peace-Building in Divided Societies: Playing with Enemies', and features summaries of the main chapters that feature in this important study. The talk begins with the question of what has been the contribution of critical sociology to the evolution of the Sport for Development and Peace movement (SDP), as both an area of practical/professional intervention and academic endeavour.  In seeking to answer this question in the book, Professor Sugden draws on his extensive international experience of studying the role of sport in divided societies and working in the field around the world to develop a methodological and theoretical model for peace-building using sport and related cultural activities.

Like the book this presentation charts the origins and evolution of the University of Brighton’s flagship Football 4 Peace (F4P) programme. In so doing it features original practice-based case studies from three different regions of the world in which sport in contrary ways has played a prominent role in socio-political fragmentation, reconciliation and reconstruction. These case-studies focus on: Northern Ireland; Israel/Palestine and South Africa. Combining a wealth of primary and secondary data, the author charts the rise of the contemporary SDP movement based on the premise that sport is a cultural institution that stands at the interface between political and civil society. In divided communities, sport has been an agent of separation, sectarian hatred and violence, but also a highly effective tool for conflict resolution, reconciliation and peace-building.