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Colonial Bodies, Colonial Sport: 'Martial' Punjabis, 'Effeminate' Bengalis and The Development Of Indian Football

Title:Colonial Bodies, Colonial Sport: 'Martial' Punjabis, 'Effeminate' Bengalis and The Development Of Indian Football
Author:P. Dimeo
Publication:The International Journal of the History of Sport / Routledge, part of the Taylor and Francis Group
Enumeration:Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 72 - 90 / March 01, 2002
Abstract:This article examines the relationship of 'race', masculinity and politics in the development of Indian football. It argues that the differential growth and popularity of the sport in the twentieth century can be explained by analyzing the context into which it was introduced in the nineteenth century. This analysis also offers fresh insight into the history of British colonialism in India. Punjabis were regarded as allies and viewed in racial terms as 'martial', Bengalis faced the racial slur of 'effeminacy' and were considered disloyal and anti-colonial. Football became politicized in Bengal, an opportunity for the expression of difference, while in the Punjab the sport did not take on this oppositional character. It is argued that social difference is a prerequisite for developing success in football and this helps explain why Bengal has been at the centre of Indian football since the end of the nineteenth century.

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