File spoon-archives/bourdieu.archive/bourdieu_2001/bourdieu.0107, message 20

Date: Sat, 14 Jul 2001 11:49:34 -0700
Subject: Re: SV: Wacquant on boxing--- actor and spectators of barbarism

You're obviously entitled to investigate whatever you wish, but investigation of
the phrase "unspeakable barbarism" does not strike me, at least, as a
particularly promising path. Since it is evident from what you yourself say in
your posting that you have not looked at the relevant texts, that would probably
be a better start. After that, if one wanted take an empirical approach to the
study of this phenomenon, interviews with boxers themselves, with particular
emphasis on their socioeconomic backgrounds, would be another obvious step. As
far as the phrase itself, "unspeakable barbarism," I think it's very clear what
is meant. It is a "sport" in which the object is to "win" by literally beating
the crap out of your opponent, bloodying him up, knocking him unconscious, and
inflicting much physical pain. If that's not "barbarism," I don't know what is.
Even traditional wrestling doesn't go that far. But on second thought, perhaps
there is something interesting in the "unspeakable" aspect of it: the fact that
thousands and even millions of supposedly "civilized" people take pleasure in
watching such spectacles. (I'm talking about major events here, not so much YMCA
and school events where the participants wear protective equipment). I don't
know for certain, but my suspicion is that it is the same impulse which drives
spectators of events in which animals are set to fight themselves to the death.
     Hence my suggestion is this: the phenomenon appears open to study from two
very different angles: the motivations of the participant, and the motivations
of the spectators.

Torgeir Fjeld wrote:

> It seems as the term 'unspeakable barbarisms', put in scare quotes by Elanie
> Power, might need some investigation. Does L/Wacquant use this term himself?
> There are some fairly articulate boxers around (Nelson Mandela, for
> instance) - doesn't their speech count? Or are they excluded from Civilised
> Discourse by way of being barbaric? It might be interesting to think of
> boxing's 'unspeakable barbarism', according to the original poster(?) -
> whose name I don't have here - in terms of Bourdieu's discussion of sports
> aesthetics in, e.g.
> Bourdieu, Pierre. "How can one be a sports fan?" The Cultural Studies
> Reader. Ed. Simon During. London: Routledge, 1993. 339-356.
> or
> Bourdieu, Pierre. 1990. Programme for a Sociology of Sport. In Other
> Words: Essays Towards a Reflexive Sociology. Transl. Matthew Adamson.
> Cambridge: Polity Press. 156-167.
> Best wishes,
> Torgeir Fjeld
> >
> > Oh my. Such inflammatory language.
> >
> [...]
>  Loic
> > Wacquant is that, in the best tradition of work influenced by
> > Bourdieu, his
> > deepest interest is in the 'unspeakable barbarisms' and violences of
> > poverty and racism, particularly in the inner cities of the U.S., and
> > boxing is one way to finding out about and understand that -  in an
> > 'embodied' way. Since boxing is definitely a classed and raced activity,
> > then you need to understand the context (in a Bourdieusian way) to
> > understand its appeal.
> >
> > Please don't grind your personal ax against boxing on Wacquant's
> > back. Read
> > some of his work instead.
> >
> > Elaine Power
> >
> >
> >
> > >And so I ask, well, why would Lacquant subject himself to that?  If
> > >he doesn't relish his own participation, then he's quite a
> > trooper. And if
> > >he does, then the appeal of this unspeakable barbarism for him demands
> > >explanation.  And I think I'm entitled to an answer.
> > >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > **********************************************************************
> > Contributions:
> > Commands:
> > Requests:
> **********************************************************************
> Contributions:
> Commands:
> Requests:



Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005