Dr Katharine Jones (Thomas Jefferson University) “Will the Real Fans Please Stand Up? Negotiating Gendered Authenticity in English Football.”
Wednesday 23 May, 4pm-5pm, Deakin Downtown, Level 12, Tower 2, 727 Collins Street, Melbourne. See reception for room number. Virtual Meeting Point dial-in number: (03) 522 36973.
Abstract: English football (aka soccer) underwent a major transformation at the turn of the 21st century as a result of several deadly stadium disasters and an infusion of money from satellite TV contracts. Women and children were seen as potential “civilizing” influences by the footballing authorities, and so were encouraged to attend (although they had always done so). At the same time, it became clear that clubs could make money off fans if they treated them as customers consuming an entertainment product. My talk explores the backlash among football fans to this corporate model, which has focused on so-called outsiders to the game, people presumed not to be “true” fans, either because of their match attendance history, their clothing, their accent, or their identity. These discourses of authenticity create boundaries between fans and their performance of fandom. Holding fans to ideals of authenticity excludes some, includes others, and produces nostalgia for the way things used to be. This mythical time was when all fans were authentic—or, rather, a time when white straight men could be “real” men, and gendered, racial and sexual others could be safely excluded, ignored or abused. The discourse of authenticity is also used to sell the game back to fans; but it leads to unattainable standards for fandom. Female fans, fans of colour, and/or LGBT fans suffer the most from these strict definitions of authentic fandom.
Katharine Jones is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA. She earned a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University, and an MA and PhD in Sociology from Rutgers University in New Jersey. She also earned a Certificate in Women’s Studies from Rutgers. She has published on the accents and identity negotiations of white English immigrants in the US, in her book Accent on Privilege (Temple University Press, 2001), and women’s responses to sexism and homophobia at English soccer matches. Her current research interests are: the intersections of gender, race, class and sexuality, as applied to English soccer fans; autoethnographies of the body, grief, and illness; feminist methodologies; and critical pedagogies. At Jefferson, She teaches courses about gender, race and class; globalization; citizenship; sport; and the United Kingdom. Katharine spent her childhood in the UK, Africa, and the Caribbean, and travelled widely because of her parents’ jobs.
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