Baseball, Citizenship, and National Identity in George W. Bush's America

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2008-11-21

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Abstract

The four separate, but related, studies within this research project seek to offer a critical understanding for how American national identit(ies), and particular forms of (cultural) citizenship are discursively constructed and performed in and through the sport of baseball. More specifically, this dissertation will utilize and expand upon critical theories of neoliberalism, citizenship, whiteness, and (physical) cultural studies to engage various empirical sites, which help provide the context for everyday life in contemporary America. Each chapter looks at various empirical aspects of the Little League World Series and the fans of the Boston Red Sox (popularly referred to as Red Sox Nation) that have historically privileged particular performances and behaviors often associated with white, American, heterosexual, upper-middle class, masculine subject-positions. In the first instance this project also attempts to describe how 'normalized' American citizenship is being (re)shaped in and through the sport of baseball. Secondly, I aim to critically evaluate claims made by both Little League Baseball, and the Boston Red Sox organization, in response to (popular) criticisms (Bryant, 20002; Mosher, 2001a, 2001b, 2001c) of regressive activity and behavior historically related to their organizations, that they are striving for a more culturally diverse and welcoming condition for all through their tournament and fan community respectively.

To best articulate this critical understanding of the cotemporary moment I analyzed the production of the 2003 Little League Worlds Series, the (multi)media discourses surrounding Dominican star/villain, Danny Almonte, the filmic rendering of 'normalized' members of Red Sox Nation within Good Will Hunting and Fever Pitch, and finally an ethnographic study of Red Sox Nation throughout the 2007 baseball season.  In following Andrews (2008) suggestive outline for a Physical Cultural Study I used a multi-methodological, qualitatively based, study to gather evidence through which to best understand the socio-political context of the contemporary moment.  In so doing, I hope to clarify the dangerous way neoliberal capitalism is practiced and experienced in America.

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