Call for Chapters | Wrestling with Identity: Nation, Race, and Culture in Professional Wrestling


We are seeking contributors to our project, an edited volume of essays examining various aspects of professional wrestling and its relationship to other themes (nationalism, gender, race, etc.). The scope is broad and open, and authors are welcome to write about any individual, period, or location. For our purposes, professional wrestling is broadly defined as grappling contests for pay, regardless of whether the outcomes are predetermined – hence, this could include “shoot” contests from the late-nineteenth century to the current televised “sports-entertainment” product, or even mixed martial arts, popularized in the last two decades by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and other promotions. Both of the editors are trained as historians, but we welcome submissions from practitioners of all humanities and social science disciplines.

Examples of possible thematic topics include:

    • Race in wrestling (example: “Nazis, Japs, and Pearl Harbor Attacks: German and Japanese Stereotypes in American Professional Wrestling”)
    • Gender in wrestling  -Pro wrestling and national or regional identity/culture
    • Fan culture
    • Mixed Martial Arts and (or even “as”) pro wrestling
    • Economic aspects of the business
    • Profiles of particular individuals (example: “Rikidozan: Korean Icon of Japanese Nationality”)
    • Treatments of wrestling in other media (example: “Race and Villainy in The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity”)

Possible periods and locations for study include:

    • The origins of pro wrestling in camp and carnival contests (1850s-1900)
    • The early television era (1950s)  -The territorial era (1950s-1980s)
    • Specific territories (examples: Mid-Atlantic in the Carolinas, WCCW in Dallas, AWA in Minnesota, Mid-South in Oklahoma, WWWF in the Northeast, etc.)
    • Vince K. McMahon’s drive toward monopoly (1980s)
    • The “Attitude” Era (late 1990s) (example: “’Something strange has been happening…I don’t think there are good guys anymore, people seem to be sick of good guys’: National Identity, Authority, and the Hero in Professional Wrestling, 1996-1998”)
    • Wrestling in Mexico, Japan, Europe, or elsewhere

Proposals should be no more than 1-2 pages, and should include a brief bio of the author. Interested individuals should email their proposals to Aaron Horton (Assistant Professor of History, Alabama State University) at, or Zach Bates (M.A., history, Georgia State University, history PhD candidate, University of Calgary) at We hope to receive all chapter proposals by December 31, 2015 in order to move forward with the project in a timely manner.

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