The Ethnography of Culture, Symbols, and Identity: Sport Jerseys and Team Names in Latino Recreational Sports in the U.S

By Keith L. Kleszynski and Bernardo Ramirez Rios.

Published by The Sport Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In the United States the anthropology of sport has received little attention since the 1990’s. This paper explores anthropology, sport, and the use of ethnographic methods to expose some of the benefits anthropologists may receive by incorporating sports into their analysis of cultural systems. Using examples of player jerseys and team names this paper explores issues of symbolism gleaned through the methods of ethnography, specifically participant observation, to determine the cultural meaning of these jerseys and team names for recreational sport participants in two Latino communities in the U.S. urban areas of San Diego County and Los Angeles, California. Ethnography is a powerful research tool often utilized in social science contexts outside of sport and the purpose of this paper is to propose its use in anthropology of sports research.

Keywords: Ethnography, Identity, Latin Americans, San Diego, Los Angeles

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.35-46. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.152MB).

Keith L. Kleszynski

PhD Student/Graduate Assistant/Instructor, Department of Anthropology, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, OK, USA

I am currently a PhD student at the University of Oklahoma examining Latino recreational futbol leagues in Oklahoma City. These leagues provide a social space where transnational Latino cultural identities are preserved and declared for migrants currently living in Oklahoma City. Major research interests include the anthropology of sport, migration, transnationality, masculinity, human sexuality, and Mexico and Latin America.

Dr. Bernardo Ramirez Rios

PhD Candidate/Graduate Assistant, Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

I am an anthropologist and PhD candidate at The Ohio State University. My research focuses on various aspects of culture and anthropology including visual anthropology, sports, migration, transnationalism, race, ethnicity, and identity studies. Particularly, I’m interested in migration from southern Mexico to the U.S. and the socioeconomic occurrences that may cover transnational space. My other interests include visual representation in sports and the multiple issues of race and ethnicity in sporting activities. Currently, I’m working with a southern Mexican migrant community in Los Angeles California observing the role basketball plays in developing community, culture, and identity. In this particular case the sport of basketball is a social marker for culture and identity in Oaxaca, Mexico. Therefore, the sport of basketball in Oaxaca is a unique social process that aids in research fields such as migration and transnationalism.