Football and Indigenous Communities

Football (transgenerational fan) communities and indigenous communities have more in common from an anthropological gaze as we might expect.

Anthropology, for already 150 years, tries to understand what are differences and similarities between small-scale and our large-scale (national) societies.

From Roussaeu to Comte, from  Tylor to Boas, from Malinowski to Radcliff-Brown, from Levi-Strauss to Leach, from Wolf to Wallerstein, from Dumont to Taussig all stumbled over this ‘cultural self-reflective’ enigma of who  we are: European rooted societies.We sold this, for centuries, to the world as the ‘search for beginning/roots/origins of humanity’.

Western social science, in particular archeology, paleontology and anthropology, is more and more taken as ‘cosmology producing enterprise’,  a ‘looking in the mirror’, of how we became who we are today. We are not in the Enlightenment epoche anymore but in the Anthropocene nowadays.

Toennis, Durkheim, Weber, Elias, Bourdieu, Foucalt, Luhmann, Beck, Bauma and Giddens all wrestled how to unravel the workings of our modern urbanized societies. This one million dollar question runs in many versions. The most mainstream is: how do individuals fits in, become part of, their societies?

The title of this post points to a persistent blind spot in European social sciences: small-scale and large scale societies are in the same logical categories of human groupings. The claim I elaborate in my Tiny Triology

My clinical fieldwork (1983-1993) on maturation (coming of age) among (about 500) young men hospitalized in psychiatry and incarcerated in multicultural contexts in the Netherlands pushed me rfor mor then three decades into this major issue in, now all, social sciences.

Most of the young men I worked with were drafted soldiers getting into mental health troubles serving their country in the domain of national security: the Dutch army. Together these young men represented the great diversity of religious, regional, class, migrant and political communities of The Netherlands.

The epistemologcail ‘riddle of the sphinx’ I encountered was how to make sense of the ways they ‘grouped’ (clustered) together in my artisinal therapeutic workshop.

In 1994 I published in a an article the following text:

………..I started to observe patterns in adolescents from such differing areas as Limburg, in the south of Holland, and for example, in Surinam-Hindustanic adolescents and could order them in the same clusters. In the cluster of majority-minority communication I made an important discovery about the reluctance and resistance of adolescents from ‘Holland’ background to communicate about their ethnic background in group meetings. Members from indigenous and foreign ethnic backgrounds were likely to tell or show something of their region, country and group, but it was difficult for Dutch boys from the provinces of South- and North-Holland and the big cities to do so and some of them belittled the expressions of the others and said, for example: ‘We don’t need such things’.In my view this was an expression of the majority versus minority argument which goes something like: ‘we were always here and people from the outer provinces (and foreigners) have to adjust to our ways of doing and saying things’ controversy is already old and is connected with the continuing controversy between city and country, urbanites and farmers, modernization and tradition and perhaps with the dualism between nationality and ethnicity. Being a member of the majority seemed to give a feeling of security based on a self evident feeling of superiority. This component in majority code seems to coincide with a monocultural perspective which can be a burden in the rapidly increasing multiculturalisation of Europe and for that matter of the whole world. In the occupational therapeutic meetings I had a hard time protecting the therapeutic structure and atmosphere whenever this issue was raised. Confronting nationality with its ethnicity, with its historical roots, with its ‘ownness’, even in expressing one’s ‘non-Holland’ ethnicity seemed in my observations to raise reactions which resembled stereotyping, discrimination and racism in many group members with a ‘Holland’ background. ………..

‘ín’To my view there is a persistent epistemological error