Since its publication more than a decade ago, Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities has offered an enticing, if romantic, way of conceptualising nationalism. Fine-grained ethnographic analysis, however, of the ways in which local populations actually imagine their community raises some questions for the continuing viability of such a notion. In many places around the world, people consciously and conspicuously place themselves outside of the imagined community, and it is the social, cultural, and political consequences of such actions that this article seeks to explore. Drawing on a period of ethnographic fieldwork undertaken in France in the mid-1990s, this article examines very public contestation and sabotage of the Tour de France by pro-Basque supporters. This specific case study of political activism through sport provides a compelling example of the ways in which a dominant symbol of French national identity is usurped and upstaged by a minority group so as to reinvent or re-imagine a new kind of community.
Catherine Palmer and Kirrilly Thompson
In this article we examine the cultural practices of a group of South Australian football supporters known as the “Grog Squad.” While hard drinking is undeniably a central part of this group of exclusively male fans, being a “Groggie” is much more than just being in a boozy boys club. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork undertaken throughout the 2005 South Australian football season, as well as Internet research, we argue that the style of support engaged in by the Grog Squad represents a paradox for how we typically understand football fans. On the one hand, much of the language and behavior of the Grog Squad is characteristic of the aggressive masculinity common in male contact sports. On the other, being a Groggie provides access to a range of resources, benefits, networks, and supports that confound many of the popular assumptions about male social relationships in sport. To explain the arrant sexism and homophobia of the Grog Squad simply in terms of hegemonic masculinity is to obscure the very real social supports and connections (best described as social capital) that are often overlooked in studies of male sports fans.