October 27, 2017

Embodied Nation - Sport, Masculinity, and the Making of Modern Laos

Title:  Embodied Nation - Sport, Masculinity, and the Making of Modern Laos
By:  Simon Creak
Publisher, Year:  University of Hawaii, 2015
ISBN:   9780824838890
Price:  USD$30

Embodied Nation - Sport, Masculinity, and the Making of Modern Laos

The entire first chapter is rather lengthy in its discussion about the Lao sport of tikhi.  A Lao game which looks very much like a precursor to hockey played on a field rather than ice.  I found the later chapters to be much more interesting though.

It's interesting to learn how whichever powers that existed at the time in the country, that they attempted to use sport to change behaviour, develop pride in one's nation, teach ideology, shape an image of masculinity, promote service to the nation, and so fourth.  More than anything else, it's a fascinating read on how politicized sports can be and how it can feed into issues of race and nationhood.

In particular, some of the interesting tidbits in this book are the historical sports related stories that are sprinkled throughout and of course the discussions on major sports events that have occurred in Laos.

  • The story of the Bedier Cup in 1936 and subsequent controversy between Lao and Vietnamese teams.
  • The Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO) and the politics involved at the time.  Like how the Lao team was called Pathet Lao which politically referred to the Lao communists but here it was being used to describe all Lao athletes.  Something that the Royal Lao government at the time did not agree with.
  • Laos' first appearance at the Olympic games in 1980.
  • Laos' first National Games in 1985 and how the divisions were done in zones rather than provinces.
  • First SEA Games in Laos in 2009.
  • Rivalry against Thailand.
  • Female representation, albeit limited, is an issue that is addressed in this book as well.
  • Even the posters, pictures and drawings from earlier periods that relate to sport and propaganda are interesting to see.

If any of what I've written here interests you, then I highly recommend you get a copy for yourself.  Additionally, for your reference the complete and lengthy table of contents is shown below, for those who might be interested.

  • Acknowledgements
  • Abbreviations
  • Language Conventions
  • Map
  • Introduction
  • Making a Modern Tradition (tikhi)
      Travellers' Tales
      Writing Lao Culture in the 1930s
      The Anthropologists - Paul Levy
      The Anthropologists - Archaimbault
      Tikhi, Ritual, and Sport
  • Renovating the Body, Restoring the Nation/Race
      The National Revolution in Indochina
      The Objectives of Sport in Indochina
      The Nhay Movement
      The Physical Renovation in Practice
      Franco-Lao Ideas and Agency
      Race, Bodies, and Modernity
      The promise and Limits of Cultural Nationalism
  • Embodying Military Masculinity
      Decolonization and Militarization
      Militarization Outside the Military
      The Militarization of Lao Masculinity
      Picturing the Military Body
      Training and Transformation
      Shared Agency in the Almost-Nation
  • Sport and the Theatrics of Power
      Disunity in Postcolonial Laos
      Discourses of Unity and Progress
      Performing Unity and Progress in 1964
      Sport and Modernity in Postcolonial Laos
  • Representing Meuang Lao in Southeast Asia
      Sport, Globalization, and Regional Dynamics
      The SEAP Games
      Lao Nationalism and the Regional Geography of Desirability
      Victory Against the Big Brother
      The Politics of GANEFO
      An Alternative Meuang Lao
      GANEFO in Revolutionary Sport and Historiography
      Sport and Region i Laos
  • Socialist Cultures of Rhretoric and Physicality
      Socialist Physical Culture and Rhetoric
      The "Third Revolution" and the New Socialist Person
      Building the New Socialist Person Through Education, Culture, and Physical Culture
      Mobilizing Sport and Physical Culture for the Masses
      Achievements and Shortcomings
      The Motif of Labor and the Body
      Physical Metaphor in the Cosmology of Socialist Laos
      The Physical Cultures of Socialist Laos
  • Mobilizing the Revolution
      Conceptualizing Socialist Spectator Sport
      Building a Revolutionary Atmosphere
      The Extended Socialist Family
      On the World Stage
      Equality Between the Sexes
      Moscow 1980
      Vientiane 1985 and Beyond
      Demobilizing the Revolution
  • Vientiane Games, 2009
      The SEA Games in Historical Context
      Paradox and History
      Sport, Physical Culture, and State Power in Laos
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index