This interdisciplinary seminar engages with sport, primarily cricket, as a critical site of diaspora formation for South Asian communities in Germany. Following well documented inquiries on the intersection of cricket and South Asian diasporas in the UK and Norway, this seminar aims to broaden the conversation on postcolonial diasporic trajectories by considering how sporting practices relate specific experiences of identity, culture, and migrancy in Germany.
British imperialism in India brought with it the sport of cricket as an exemplary and embodied practice of English culture and civilisation. As C.L.R. James aptly noted in the context of the West Indies, “everything began from the basis that Britain was the source of light and leading, and our business was to admire, wonder, imitate, learn”. Cricket, too, played a role in the colonial mission in establishing Victorian values and elite formations. Divided along racial and communitarian lines, cricket developed as a critical field not only in the articulation of colonial, class, and caste power but also in the expression of indigenous politics and identity. Today, cricket in the sub-continent and in South Asian diasporas thrives with deep cultural roots as a highly indigenised sport. Whilst much attention has been paid to cricket and its diasporic constellations in the UK, South Asian sporting practices in Germany remain largely invisible. As such, this seminar introduces the following questions:
What role does cricket play in the lives of South Asian immigrants?
What imaginations and struggles are played out in the field, especially given the relative obscurity of the sport in the German context?
What assemblages of place-making, community, gender, and materialities are embedded in the practice of cricket?
Guided by these questions, participants of the seminar will engage with postcolonial diaspora theory, history of cricket (colonial and postcolonial) through literature, film and travelogues, and attend a cricket match and practice sessions of teams playing in and around Berlin. Through conversations with cricket players, participants will be encouraged to reflect on the relationship between sport and postcolonial geographies of migration.