DepositUn parque para cada pueblo: Julio Enrique Monagas and the Politics of Sport and Recreation in Puerto Rico during the 1940s.

During the 1940s, Puerto Rico enjoyed the benefits of a U.S. sponsored economic boom as a result of the Second World War. Taking advantage of this influx of capital, the Puerto Rican government’s sport and recreation commission, led by Julio Enrique Monagas, sought out an island-wide plan to build sport and recreational facilities under a social justice ideology. The mass produced athletic parks were built in both the major urban cities as well as in the rural towns, a process later dubbed a “sport revolution.” The government, through its sports commission, claimed that the mass athletic construction project was to uplift society, as well as a long awaited push for athletic modernization. However, more than top-down government policies, the politics of sport and recreation entailed popular demands for even more and better parks and programming. Thus, at stake with the plan, also known as “Un parque para cada pueblo,” was the negotiation over the terms of a hegemonic relation between the emerging Partido Popular Democrático, the citizenry, and in turn U.S. colonialism.

Deposit“Operation Sport”: Puerto Rico’s Recreational and Political Consolidation in an Age of Modernization and Decolonization, 1950s

Contextualized in a Western push for post-war decolonization and modernization, the development of recreation programs in 1950s Puerto Rico helped consolidate the state’s sport institution and, in turn, legitimize a new political status. The 1950s was a pivotal decade in Puerto Rican history due to the creation of the Commonwealth in 1952 and the innovative economic project known as Operation Bootstrap. The term “Operation Sport” portrays the development of sport and recreation in this decade as collaboration between the government and the working classes to develop recreational/cultural activities to assuage the impact of dramatic industrialization. However, regardless of the perception of progress, critics targeted the program for its centralization and expropriations, comparing it to “Communist” governments. For the newly established Commonwealth, at stake in the popular acceptance of these recreational programs was evaluation of a new political status arising from promises of social justice.

MemberJohanna Mellis

…Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies

North American Society for Sport History

Oral History Association

American Historical Association

Hungarian Studies Association

…r for European studies, titled, “Freedom’s Fury: The 1956 Hungarian Revolution as Reflected in Sport,” Fall 2016. Selected and invited guest speaker, helped organize the events, and throughout…
…Ph.D., History, University of Florida, 2018

Dissertation Title: Negotiation Through Sport: Navigating Everyday Life in Socialist Hungary, 1948-1989

M.A., History, University of Florida, 2012

“From Defectors to Cooperators: The Impact of 1956 on Athletes, Sport Leaders, and Sport Policy in Socialist Hungary.” Contemporary European History. Vol. 29, N…

I am an Assistant Professor of World history at Ursinus College, outside of Philadelphia. I teach courses in World and European history. My courses include “GOAL! Sport in World History, “Nationalism and Memory in Modern Europe,” “Empire, Patriarchy, and Race: Power and People in Modern World History,” “Cold War in Europe: Gender, Labor, and Immigrants,” and “Oral History: Collecting All Voices.” My manuscript-in-progress, titled Changing the Game: Hungarian Athletes and International Sport during the Cold War, explores an uncharted, human aspect of Cold War cultural history: how Hungarian athletes shaped the sport world from 1948-1989. Hungary’s impressive sport history and geopolitical status – it became the third-strongest world sport power under Stalinism and later served the IOC as an intermediary with more contentious Communist countries – make the Hungarian sport community a compelling case study to examine Cold War international culture. The project examines the motivations and evolving relationship between the IOC and Hungarian sport leaders on the one hand, and sport leaders and Hungarian athletes on the other. It argues that international sport was not simply an arena for Communist repression and traditional Cold War cultural and diplomatic tensions to play out. Rather, the manuscript demonstrates how athletes, sport leaders, and the IOC engaged in sporting cooperation with one another in order to achieve their respective aims from the 1960s-1980s. Athletes influenced international sport through their increased agency vis-a-vis, and cooperation with, sport leaders, who in turned worked collegially with the IOC to shape its culture and international policies in order to benefit athletes at home. In one of the first Cold War analyses grounded in athletes’ experiences and memories, I situate their voices in the international sport world by triangulating thirty-five oral histories with Hungarian athletes, coaches, and sport leaders with archival documents from Hungary, Switzerland, and the US. Although typically portrayed as helpless victims or wily resistors, the experiences of Hungarian athletes demonstrate how they asserted agency by choosing to work with sport leaders to improve their lives. Changing the Global Gamedirects scholars of Eastern Europe, Sport History, and the Cold War toward Hungary and demonstrates that histories examining international culture and the Cold War must consider the ways in which people’s actions in the less-contentious Middle Bloc states navigated and shaped the creation of both. My research has been awarded numerous prestigious grants, including the Olympic Studies Centre’s PhD Research Grant, the North American Society for sport History Dissertation Travel Grant, and a Fulbright Grant. I have also received several Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships to study Hungary.  

DepositThe Sovereign Colony: Olympic Sport, National Identity, and International Politics in Puerto Rico.

Ceded to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris after the Spanish-American War of 1898, Puerto Rico has since remained a colonial territory. Despite this subordinated colonial experience, however, Puerto Ricans managed to secure national Olympic representation in the 1930s and in so doing nurtured powerful ideas of nationalism. By examining how the Olympic movement developed in Puerto Rico, Antonio Sotomayor illuminates the profound role sports play in the political and cultural processes of an identity that developed within a political tradition of autonomy rather than traditional political independence. Significantly, it was precisely in the Olympic arena that Puerto Ricans found ways to participate and show their national pride, often by using familiar colonial strictures—and the United States’ claim to democratic values—to their advantage. Drawing on extensive archival research, both on the island and in the United States, Sotomayor uncovers a story of a people struggling to escape the colonial periphery through sport and nationhood yet balancing the benefits and restraints of that same colonial status. The Sovereign Colony describes the surprising negotiations that gave rise to Olympic sovereignty in a colonial nation, a unique case in Latin America, and uses Olympic sports as a window to view the broader issues of nation building and identity, hegemony, postcolonialism, international diplomacy, and Latin American–U.S. relations.

DepositCaribbean Soccer: Hispanoamericanismo and the Identity Politics of Fútbol in Puerto Rico, 1898-1920s.

When the United States took possession of Puerto Rico in 1898, an aggressive Americanization project introduced cultural practices, including American sports. However, although Puerto Ricans incorporated U.S. sports to their sporting profile, they did so adhering to a larger Hispanic- American ideology. Although soccer, or f ´ utbol, was played in Puerto Rico during the first decades of the United States occupation, it was associated with Spain and Hispanoamericanismo. Due to this, soccer was discriminated and unpopular in a population that incorporated American sports. I argue that through soccer we see another important element in the negotiation overU.S. imperialism in Puerto Rico and in the broader expansion of Hispanoamericanismo in the early twentieth century. Despite its unpopularity, soccer’s limited space within Puerto Rican sports came to symbolize a Hispanic and Latin American sport, helping to fuel broader notions of nationhood. In this regard, Puerto Rican soccer illustrates the conciliation of a colonial nation hoping to fit within Latin America, while also adopting American sports. Through Puerto Rican soccer we can observe broader cultural and political negotiations over Americanization and Hispanidad in the Spanish Caribbean and how this process can in turn help develop strong ideas of national identity.

MemberZachary Smith

…American Academy of Religion

North American Society for the Sociology of Sport

North American Association for the Study of Religion…
…Ph.D. Student, Sport Studies—University of Tennessee

M.A., Comparative Religion—Western Michigan University

M.S., Sport Science—United States Sports Academy…
Smith, Z.T. (2019). Re-telling ‘the story so far’: Reconsidering the sport and spirituality field in light of the New Age. Quest. Advanced online publication. DOI:10.108…

Zach is a PhD student and graduate teaching associate in Sport Studies at the University of Tennessee. Before Tennessee, he completed an MA in Comparative Religion at Western Michigan University. His academic interests revolve primarily around religion and physical cultures in the US, and he is a research assistant at the Center for the Study of Sport and Religion at the University of Tennessee. His dissertation is an ethnographic study of Christian mixed martial arts.

DepositInform to Perform: Using Domain Analysis to Explore Amateur Athlete Information Resources and Behaviour

Sporting information has been relatively unexamined in library and information science (LIS) literature with most research concentrating on collection management or archival functions. User studies in LIS have covered some aspects of outdoor recreation and hobbies, but only one study has been found explicitly researching amateur athletes. This project builds contributes a definition of sport as an information domain and an exploratory user study of amateur athletes. The research takes a socio-cognitive approach and uses domain analysis linked to serious leisure, information communication chain and information behaviour theories to provide the research context. These foundational theories are used to define sport as an information domain more formally, noting both degrees of specialisation within it and intersections with related disciplines. Four domain analysis approaches are then used to illustrate the potential of the approach for researching different dimensions within the domain. Three of these approaches involve desk research into different aspects of amateur sport information. By discussing the role of documents, computer science and discourses in sport these approaches show that sport is a multi-faceted and interdisciplinary domain with many topics of interest for the information researcher and practitioner. The fourth approach is a user study of athlete information behaviour that collected data on information sources, tasks and attitudes via an online questionnaire.

DepositColonial Olympism: Puerto Rico and Jamaica’s Olympic Movement in Pan‐American Sport, 1930 to the 1950s

This paper examines how two Caribbean islands, Puerto Rico and Jamaica, developed ideas of national identity while negotiating political emancipation within two distinct, yet allied Anglophone empires. We can see this process through the Olympic movement and referred to here as “colonial Olympism.” Both Puerto Rico and Jamaica participated as colonies of the United States and Great Britain at international sporting events from 1930 to the 1950s. More than a benevolent gesture by the U.S. or Great Britain, Puerto Rico and Jamaica’s participation was intended to foster international goodwill through sport, including crucial notions of Pan-Americanism. Comparing these two islands, and the metropolises they represented, offers a good way to understand the commonalities and differences in U.S. and Great Britain’s geopolitical interests in Latin America. However, the Olympic and the Pan-American Games, gave both colonies the perfect scenario to perform as separate nations and fed a sense of distinct peoplehood. Sport leaders from both islands negotiated their way into nationhood by the very fact of participating in the Olympic movement, albeit as non-sovereign states. In turn, having Olympic nationhood became another important tool in both islands’ quest for decolonization, contributing an important angle to better understand twentieth-century international politics and decolonization processes.