Call for Papers | “Leisure Cultures and Glocal Challenges to National Populist Politics” | Special Issue of Leisure Studies. Call ends 31 January 2018

Guest co-editors

    • Stanley Thangaraj
    • Daniel Burdsey
    • Aarti Ratna
    • Erica Rand

Contemporary politics – in their cultural, governmental, spatial, neoliberal and/or institutional forms – are saturated by racialised forms of power, exclusion and entitlement. The recent rise in conservative politics among the major Western powers has given (renewed) rise to a consolidation and expansion of white supremacist and anti-immigrant ideologies, regimes and discourses across Europe and in the United States of America: Brexit in the UK, the election of Donald Trump in the United States, the so-called “refugee crisis” in Europe and the rise of what Stuart Hall termed “authoritarian populism” broadly. Meanwhile, within locations across the Global South, such as India and Syria, religious and ethnic insularity and discrimination have facilitated a pernicious politics of division highlighted by various forms of authoritarianism. These developments and conditions build on the collisions between entrenched neoliberalism, endemic Islamophobia, pernicious attacks on multiculturalism, and personal, symbolic and structural forms of racial violence.

This special issue examines how these matters occur in, through and are challenged by leisure, physical culture and sport. Specifically, this special issue interrogates both how institutional and informal realms of leisure-based protest, resistance, and counter-hegemonic struggle continue to operate in recognizable ways; and how emergent leisure-based cultures, practices, contexts and tactics are being developed that offer a rupture to normative regimes, discourses and practices. Alongside a consideration of more established models and sites of protest, this special issue attends to nuanced, under-the-radar forms of leisure and sport that also come with new forms of resistance, solidarity, conviviality, pleasure and desire. These forms of protest provide understandings of the larger social world, alerting us to how hegemonic and counter-hegemonic forms of governance are embodied and managed during these uncertain political and economic times.

By underscoring race – and interpolating it within a conversation with broader neoliberal forces – this special issue aims to highlight the ways in which leisure cultures, practices and spaces incorporate various axes, categories and mediums to invigorate and substantiate racial classifications, including those that work outside the western lexicon of race and intelligibility. The collection will explore how race gains traction through the interjection of class, gender, sexuality, ability, citizenship and multiple politics of location. At a time when key global actors institute “alternative facts” as a way to further institute racism, classism, homophobia, patriarchy and sexism, ableism, and other forms of oppression, this special issue aims to highlight what critical understandings of leisure can do to challenge anti-intellectual, imperial pursuits. Moreover, this special issue also encourages essays that consider not only leisure, sport and physical culture as substantive foci, but also interrogate dominant practices of studying and writing about them, both inside and outside the academy.

Contributions might explore (but are not limited to) the following questions:

    • Which new practices, cultures and spaces of leisure are produced by/within the contemporary authoritarian epoch?
    • How are these practices, cultures and spaces of leisure represented and reported within dominant and progressive forms of media?
    • What and where are the local, global and transnational forms of leisure resistance (especially between Global North and South)?
    • How can we understand indigeneity, settler colonialism, and national populism through the category of leisure?
    • How can we understand leisure in relation to the “global war on terror” and its connections to national populism?
    • In which ways do gender and sexuality become key to the racial logics governing leisure, national populism, local resistance, and the production of race?
    • How are we to understand rape culture in leisure culture as we make sense of the rise of national populism, ethnic strife, and white supremacy?
    • How can we decolonize and deconstruct theoretically the relationship between national populism and the pernicious politics of division (within and/or across the Global North and South)?
    • How does pleasure take shape in/through leisure during moments of authoritarian, genocidal governance?
    • How do old/new forms of leisure trouble and/or reinforce the identities and borderlands of race, gender, sexuality, ability, and nation?
    • What does a socially and politically just research methodology and practice look like in this field?

Submission details

The deadline for manuscripts to be submitted to the journal Leisure Studies is 31 January 2018. This includes original papers of 7,000 words and research notes of 4,000 words. For submission details please go to: For inquiries and/or further information please contact the guest editors at


  • Submission deadline: 31 January 2018
  • Review process: Manuscripts returned to authors 30 April 2018
  • Revision process: Final drafts due 30 June 2018

Guest editorial team

Stanley Thangaraj, City College New York, USA
Daniel Burdsey, University of Brighton, UK
Aarti Ratna, Leeds Beckett University, UK
Erica Rand, Bates College, USA

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