Great narratives and experimental methodologies successfully capture empirical, everyday experiences

Lasse N. Frandsen
Aalborg University

Jayne Caudwell & Darragh McGee (red)
Human Rights and Events, Leisure and Sport
122 pages, hardcover.
Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge 2019
ISBN 978-1-138-39292-2

I have to start this review with a confession. It took me a while to get into the ideas presented by Jayne Caudwell and Darragh McGee in Human Rights in Events, Leisure and Sport. But as the pages were turned, one after another, I paid more and more attention to the intertwined collaboration between the nine individual chapters, and now, as I’m writing this and finishing the last couple of pages, I can but highly recommend this book due to its cultural and critical research presented through a wide range of contextual and geographical insights.

As a master’s student in sports science with a Bachelor in sports science as well, I wish that I was invited on a journey around the world through the kinds of different critical, personal and reflexive texts that this book presents. Great narratives from the researchers along with a variety of different experimental methodologies offer several levels of interpretations from micro to macro in varying cultural contexts.

I will discuss two cases that hint at the kinds of insights the book offers and take me from Calais Jungle, a huge refugee camp in France, to an LGBT event in Sao Paulo with personal reflections while participating as an active researcher – as an activist researcher.

In Calais Jungle, a place where different people with different cultural and national backgrounds are living behind barb wired fences, a grassroots organization is to be found, doing an important job of preventing exploitation and violation of basic human rights from actors within police forces as well as politics. The grassroots organization is fighting extreme conditions set up by the French authorities. To ease the tensions between the refugees in the camp, this organization uses sport, play, cinema, and arts as tools to alleviate and resolve conflicts. These initiatives provide opportunities to ‘imagine worlds beyond their own’ where hope, compassion, and relations between people can evolve. The authors, Darragh McGee and Juliette Pelham, offer an important albeit partial view into a world where human rights are under daily pressure. Their work also shows how the collaborative efforts of volunteers and the people living in the camp help improve social justice in the camp.

The authors themselves sometimes appear in the text, speaking directly to the reader or thinking out loud and thus sharing their personal opinions. I wish they would have included more of this kind of writing, because I feel that the potential for sense-making and new thoughts would be inspired through more sensible reflections by the authors.

Chapter 3 is chosen because it shows the great diversity of research represented in this book. Ian R. Lamond tells deep, emotional and powerful stories from his participation in and research on a LGBT megaevent in São Paulo. Lamond invites us to walk the streets during the LGBT event through detailed descriptions that open new perspectives by offering his reflections both as a researcher and a participant. In accordance with the author’s own stated intention, he shows how his methodological stance creates a powerful potential for opening up new possibilities – and I felt that was a mission he accomplished.

Closing the book, I am left with mixed feelings. Human rights is a complicated theoretical framework to incorporate into research, as into life in general. I missed a discussion that critically considered the actual rights, because they are a powerful and worldwide ‘standard’ for human life. Having said that, however. this book is thoroughly recommendable for the authors’ attempt to engage in the applications, and failed applications, of human rights, and to create new perspectives where social justice can be discussed in many different contexts and narratives.

Copyright © Lasse N. Frandsen 2020

Table of Content

    1. Introduction: From promotion to protection: human rights and events, leisure and sport
      Jayne Caudwell & Darragh McGee
    2. Understanding the denial of abuses of human rights connected to sports mega-events
      John Horne
    3. Politics at play: locating human rights, refugees and grassroots humanitarianism in the Calais Jungle
      Darragh McGee & Juliette Pelham
    4. The challenge of articulating human rights at an LGBT ‘mega-event’: a personal reflection on São Paulo Pride 2017
      Ian R. Lamond
    5. Configuring human rights at EuroPride 2015
      Jayne Caudwell
    6. Rethinking human rights: the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, LGBT protections and the limits of cosmopolitanism
      Judy Davidson & Mary G. McDonald
    7. Human rights abuses at the Rio 2016 Olympics: activism and the media
      Adam Talbot & Thomas F. Carter
    8. The right to adequate housing: evictions of the homeless and the elderly caused by the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo
      Naofumi Suzuki, Tetsuo Ogawa & Nanako Inaba
    9. Mega-sporting events and children’s rights and interests – towards a better future
      Suzanne Dowse, Sacha Powell & Mike Weed
    10. Exploring the economic, social and cultural rights of youth leaders working in Sport for Development initiatives at grassroots level in South Africa
      E. Van der Klashorst
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