Sunday, March 1, 2009

For your footy reading pleasure, Temples of the Earthbound Gods

In a new book, entilted TEMPLES OF THE EARTHBOUND GODS: Stadiums in the Cultural Landscapes of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, my and Playtherapy's fellow Trinity University alum Dr. Christopher Thomas Gaffney takes a look at South American culture and society through the lens of the country's football stadia. Here's the down low lowdown from the press kit:

In Rio de Janeiro, the spiritual home of world football, and Buenos Aires, where a popular soccer club president was recently elected mayor, the game is an integral part of national identity. Using the football stadium as an illuminating cultural lens, Temples of the Earthbound Gods examines many aspects of urban culture that play out within these monumental architectural forms, including spirituality, violence, rigid social norms, anarchy, and also expressions of sexuality and gender.

Tracing the history of the game in Brazil and Argentina through colonial influences as well as indigenous ball courts in Mayan, Aztec, Zapotec, Mixtec, and Olmec societies, Christopher Gaffney's study spans both ancient and contemporary worlds, linking the development of stadiums to urbanization and the consolidation of nation building in two of Latin America's most intriguing megacities.

Gaffney, who now hails from Durhan, NC where he writes the blog Geostadia or the Geography of the Obvious, knows whereof he speaks. He was a four-year player for the Tigers in college and eventually had a career playing on four continents, including winning the 1997 Taiwanese Footballer of the Year Award.
This book looks fascinating to say the least. South American football is one of the least understood areas of the game, what with all the attention paid to the European experience. Most stories are about how these players will fare for the national teams and their foreign club squads. Very little work takes a gander at South American futbol in situ, and if you were to ignore the stories that focus on institutional corruption, financial catastrophe and riots, I think there would be pretty much no stories at all. So Gaffney's work is that much more important for those of us interested in global football culture.

Gaffney will be signing copies of the book at The Twig Book Shop, 5005 Broadway in San Antonio, Friday, March 27, at 5 p.m.

If you're interested in buying it directly from the University of Texas press, who published Gaffney's book, click here. Cost $55, hardcover with dust jacket, though ordering it from the site, there is 33% website discount, which brings it to $36.85. I've bought mine already and it's in the mail.

No comments: