A Ohio University Press Book
“[Following the Ball and Football and Colonialism] convincingly demonstrate that the histories of Mozambican football and of African migrants in Portugal have value and deserve to be told in their own right. … Individually and together, these impressive books greatly deepen our knowledge and understanding of football and society in Africa and Europe. I highly recommend them to specialists and general readers interested in sport, African Studies, and globalization.”
Peter Alegi, Idrottsforum
“The great impact that this book will have is not only to look at colonialism through soccer and the experiences of African players in various Portuguese colonial contexts, but—more significantly—to refocus discussions of colonialism and cultural practices on the local and colonized.”
Roger Kittleson, author of The Country of Football: Soccer and the Making of Modern Brazil
“Cleveland guides the reader to not only follow the journeys of these men, but through his analysis of their movements, to gain new awareness of the historical conditions that characterized the places of departure and the places of arrival.”
Nuno Domingos, author of Football and Colonialism: Body and Popular Culture in Urban Mozambique
“By examining the international space of football in a single analytic field and simultaneously considering Portuguese football’s constituent settings, the experiences of African football players, and the specificities of the political conjuncture, Following the Ball is a vital examination of Portuguese football during colonialism and constitutes an indispensable source for further historical studies on football.”
Marcos Cardão, Histoire sociale / Social History, Vol. 54, N. 110 (May 2021)
With Following the Ball, Todd Cleveland incorporates labor, sport, diasporic, and imperial history to examine the extraordinary experiences of African football players from Portugal’s African colonies as they relocated to the metropole from 1949 until the conclusion of the colonial era in 1975. The backdrop was Portugal’s increasingly embattled Estado Novo regime, and its attendant use of the players as propaganda to communicate the supposed unity of the metropole and the colonies.
Cleveland zeroes in on the ways that players, such as the great Eusébio, creatively exploited opportunities generated by shifts in the political and occupational landscapes in the waning decades of Portugal’s empire. Drawing on interviews with the players themselves, he shows how they often assumed roles as social and cultural intermediaries and counters reductive histories that have depicted footballers as mere colonial pawns.
To reconstruct these players’ transnational histories, the narrative traces their lives from the informal soccer spaces in colonial Africa to the manicured pitches of Europe, while simultaneously focusing on their off-the-field challenges and successes. By examining this multi-continental space in a single analytical field, the book unearths structural and experiential consistencies and contrasts, and illuminates the components and processes of empire.
Todd Cleveland is an associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas. His books include these Ohio University Press titles: Sports in Africa, Past and Present (2020), Following the Ball: The Migration of African Soccer Players across the Portuguese Colonial Empire, 1949–1975 (2018), Diamonds in the Rough: Corporate Paternalism and African Professionalism on the Mines of Colonial Angola, 1917–1975 (2015), and Stones of Contention: A History of Africa’s Diamonds (2014). More info →
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From Accra and Algiers to Zanzibar and Zululand, Africans have wrested control of soccer from the hands of Europeans, and through the rise of different playing styles, the rituals of spectatorship, and the presence of magicians and healers, have turned soccer into a distinctively African activity.African Soccerscapes explores how Africans adopted soccer for their own reasons and on their own terms.
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