Call for Papers | “Popular Sports, Mass Sports and Elite Sports in everyday Africa” – The 13th Sports Africa Conference, June 20–22, 2019, Dakar, Senegal. Call ends February 3, 2019

With the goal to promote the study of African sport as an interdisciplinary space for research and knowledge dissemination, Ohio University hosted in February 2004 the first edition of the “Sport in Africa” ​​conference (now “Sports Africa”). During the last 12 editions of this conference, between 2004 and 2017, specialists, scholars and practitioners from Africa, the Americas and Europe  addressed themes such as Youth, Gender, Health, Communication, Development, Politics, Globalization, Subalternities and Social Justice, Physical Education.

Building on the goals of Sports Africa Network, the History Department of the Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, and Sports Africa, in partnership with the Consortium for Research and Social Economy (CRES) in Dakar, the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, of the University of the Free State, the Center for International Studies at Ohio University, will host the 13th edition of the Conference in Dakar, Senegal with the theme:

Popular Sports, Mass Sports and Elite Sports in everyday Africa

The recent FIFA World Cup in Russia has once again demonstrated popular sports’ ability to offer collective jubilant moments to peoples in Africa. Whether it’s Senegalese wrestling (lutte avec frappe), traditional wrestling in Benin and Niger, basketball in Angola, athletics in Kenya or football in many African countries like Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, among others, popular sports feed the imagination of Africans in diverse and unique ways. They offer moments that seem to bridge the differences and encourage social cohesion or national understanding. These moments of participation, showcasing or success at the world class sporting events also offer opportunities to drive a variety of political agendas by a range of interest groups. Qualifying and playing the FIFA World Cup or winning Olympic medals became an opportunity for political appropriation through patriotic and nationalistic discourse. For example, when Nelson Mandela became president of free South Africa, the hosting of international football and rugby competitions allowed the “Rainbow Nation” to challenge racial rivalries and celebrate victories as a united nation.  However, beyond these exceptional moments of national communion and collective joy, the question remains over the position and role of sport in African societies and communities which remains an open field for in depth and nuanced studies.

The 13th edition of the conference on sport in Africa in Dakar, Senegal, June 20-22, 2019, will be an opportunity to reflect on sport beyond the celebrations of national sporting victories, the fixation on elite sport, and the popularity of a few famous athletes.

What role do the various formal and informal, private and public institutions, such as schools, universities, football academies, federations, ministries, sports-for-all NGOs and mass sport play and should play? Could sport deliver to societies in Africa the social cohesion, national unity, social and economic development that proponents often claim or assume?

The organizers call for meaningful reflections and critical debates on the position and role of sport in African societies around the themes below (but not limited to).

    • Sport and History, evolution et mutations
    • Sport facing cohesion or national and community rivalries
    • Symbolic relations between athletes and society
    • Sport and nationalist and sectarian sentiments
    • Immigration, nation, and identity discourse in sport
    • Sport in the face of violence and insecurity
    • Physical education and its place in national sport and society in general
    • School and university sport and their role in national policies
    • The non-institutionalized actors of sport and their role
    • Gender, race, disability and sexual orientation inclusion in sport
    • Sports and socio-economic concerns
    • Sport and public health
    • Impact of hosting sport mega-events (e.g. Youth Olympics in Senegal 2022)

The conference organizers invite abstracts from disciplines of social sciences and humanities, including but not limited to anthropology, history, sociology, geography, political science, political economy, public health and economics. We encourage presentations highlighting experiences from the field and practical case-studies to enrich debates on African sport studies.

Abstract submission

The abstract guideline:
Oral presentation

The oral panel consists of a 20 minute presentation by each author(s) in a panel of 3 to 4 presenters, followed by a discussion.

Round table (closed panel)

Conference partners will organize round tables to discuss selected topics concerning research, pedagogy, knowledge production and scholarship on the study of African sport

Keynote speakers will be announced by March 30, 2019

Important Dates

    • February 3, 2019 Submission for panel presentation and roundtable abstracts closes
    • March 4, 2019 Notifications sent
    • April 15, 2019 On line registration opens.

For more information, submission of abstracts and registration details, please visit the official website of the Conference:

To contact the organizing committee of the conference, please send an email to:

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