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Postwar Europe Essay Plan

Using post-war sporting events as case studies:

Examine the continued interplay between transnationalism, ethnonationalism and
political patriotism from 1945 to present day that has characterised Europes path
towards forging a common identity.
Introduction/Premise of the Essay
Sport has often been touted as the tangible manifestation of a nations cultural ethos,
acting as an agent that not only connects communities, but also provides a basis for the
articulation of entrenched and dominant political ideologies. In this way, large-scale
sporting events can have dichotomous effects fostering a sense of national identity and
superiority, but simultaneously acting as barometers in tracking the changing ideological
climate of the historical period in which they occur. It is through the interplay between these
two roles that a historical analysis of sport in the postwar European period illuminates the
trajectory of a continent striving towards developing a common, transnational identity
whilst navigating through the vast ethnic and political divides.
It presents the complex narrative of a nave continent initially revelling in post-war
peace, but one that would soon be bitterly divided by an iron curtain that would bring
within the transnational conversation issues of politics, economics and ethnicity issues
that were also directly contested on the postwar sporting field. As such, perhaps the most
practical role of sport in this time was in its directing of Cold War tensions towards a nonviolent frontier, providing a significant symbolic front on which this ideological war was
fought. It will thus be argued by this paper that only with Europes direct confrontation of
these issues was the propulsion formed in pushing the continent, with its vast political and
ethnic landscape, on the road to federation. The paper will note that sport acted as a cultural
form that displayed development far ahead of the political ideology of the time, and thus
pre-Federative sportive transnationalism was the eventual harbinger of political union.
Forming the backdrop to such an analysis of the role of sport are the oftencontradictory spheres of transnationalism, ethnonationalism and political patriotism that
formed the crux of ideological conflict in Postwar Europe each with their own agendas
that shaped European history. The paper will continually probe this context to reflect on
how the conflicts between each sphere played out on the sporting field, and in the process
how such conflicts spoke to the differences in the continents idea of what type of identity
they thought Europe should espouse.

Body of the Essay

1. Define the terms of the thesis classing the history of developing a European
Identity by the conflict between:
a. Ethnonationalism
b. Transnationalism
c. Political Patriotism
2. Discuss the false dichotomy in which the continent finds itself in 1945
straddling the desire to build a more transnationalist Western society to avoid war
again, but simultaneously having to deal with the entrenched ideological division
within the continent that eventually gives rise to socialist and capitalist political
3. Use the 1948 London Olympics as a case study to reflect on the first instance of
the emerging conflict between the spheres how this embodied the false
dichotomy, but also how the games spoke to the initial celebration of a continent
emerging from a rough period of war.
4. Then use then the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games as a case study to explore:
a. The emerging conflict between Hungary and the Soviet Union within
these games, that became quite bitter at one point.
i. Place these conflicts within the political context as well as the
sporting, and discuss the conflict between ethnonationalism and
political patriotism
b. The fact that these games were held out of Europe also speaks to the
important role of sport as an tool for developing an international identity
for many post-war European nations
5. Case study of the state-sanctioned doping programme undertaken by countries in
Eastern Europe during the 1960s and 70s as a form for them to further their
ethnonationalist agendas a contextual analysis of why this would have been
a. This will be placed in context of the Eastern bloc often being subject to
transnational pressures in the form of the Marshall Plan
b. And socialist political patriotism being enforced onto the nation, resulting
in significant protests such as:
i. Those in Prague after the crushing of the Prague Spring in April
1969 catalysed by the Czech national ice hockey team defeating
the Soviets.
c. Both spheres attempted to homogenise the vastly diverse ethnic landscape
of the region and this may speak to the necessity for such doping to
assert primacy and independence on a European arena
6. Reflection of sport as a form of cultural diplomacy between the capitalist and
socialist political ideologies, and how the Cold War was directly fought on this
front using the case study of the 1972 Munich then 1980 Moscow Olympics.

a. An understanding that only by confronting such issues on the sporting

arena was a clear ideological winner able to emerge
b. And thus, how in the process Europe made leaps in its process towards
7. Using the UEFA Euro 1992 Cup and Football in general as a case study a. Note first the importance of football as a sport that was adopted
throughout Europe perhaps discuss this sport as becoming emblematic
of the developing European identity.
b. Then use the case studies, in the immediate aftermath of the breakdown of
the USSR, to discuss how the new political dynamic within Europe spoke
to issues of transnationalism and ethnonationalism
i. The former Soviet Union states played together under a common
banner in the Euro 1992 games interestingly
ii. In the Balkans though, football manifest itself as both a zone of
conflict, and a symbolic unifier throughout the Bosnian War.
8. Finally, discuss the present day sporting arena in Europe with 2012 seeing the
Summer Olympics return to London and 2014 seeing the Winter Olympics go to
Sochi, Russia.
a. Summer Olympics Full circle from 1948 discuss how these games
could perhaps symbolically represent the ushering of a new era for
European society
b. Winter Olympics Interesting nationalistic tensions that reflect
continuing conflict between the aforementioned spheres characterise
Russia/Georgia/Kosovo relations within the context of these imminent
9. Conclusion Whilst European identity may have developed and changed since
1945, much of the same tensions between the spheres remain, albeit on a
different, narrower platform in present day.
Annotated Bibliography

Bolz, Daphne. 2010. The 1948 Olympics: The eve of Europes reconstruction.
Presentation at Symposium on Sport and the Transformation of Modern
Europe, Sport in Modern Europe Network, Pembroke College, Cambridge, England.
This paper allows my argument to reflect on the state of Europe in the immediate
aftermath of WW2. It demonstrates how the Olympics were used by both Britain
and Europe in this context as both a display of pride, but also to rebrand the image
of the continent in a more positive light following Nazi Germanys hosting of the
games 12 years earlier. Amidst this celebration though, this paper will allow me to
explore the emerging differences between the USSR and Western Bloc that would
characterise postwar Europe in the years to come. It is therefore useful as both a
contextual document, and one that allows me to explore the terms of my thesis in
the initial postwar period.

Consiglio, K. and Killick, L. 2010. The Bloody Olympics Down Under: Sport,
politics & the 1956 Melbourne Games. Retrieved February 15, 2011 from the British
Library website:
This paper is specifically useful for its discussion of the importance of international
sport in furthering specific agendas of political and nationalist significance. It will
allow me to introduce the idea that sporting events acted as both an agent in
bringing to the fore underlying issues between nations, but also as a front on which
these issues were directly dealt with. Noting the unique context on these games
with the Cold War at its peak and dissatisfaction rife within the USSRs satellite
states, the article also provides me with the very interesting display of SovietHungarian relations, which I can place within the terms of my thesis.
Edelman, Robert. 2006. Moscow 1980: Stalinism or Good Clean Fun? In National
Identity and Global Sports Events: Culture, Politics, and Spectacle in the Olympics and
the Football World Cup, edited by Alan Tomlinson and Christopher Young, 149-161.
Albany: State University of New York Press.
In reflecting on the role of the Moscow 1980 Olympics, this chapter provides me
with a particularly keen insight into the East-West relationship at a time when
tensions peaked due to the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. It therefore allows me to
examine the boycott of these Games as a significant open display of hostility
towards the Eastern bloc, and thereby the role of sport as a tool for cultural
diplomacy. Simultaneously, it also allows me to reflect on the interaction between
the transnational sphere (represented by the IOC) and Moscows Stalinist political
patriotism with the transnational community unable to ignore the great
achievements in sport of the USSR.
Hilbrenner, Anke and Britta Lenz. 2011. Looking at European Sport from an Eastern
European Perspective: Football in the Multi-ethnic Polish Territories. European Review
19: 595-610.
This article allows me to examine firstly how football came to primacy within the
cultural scheme of European Society, with a particular focus of its impact in
Eastern Europe both during and after the Communist period. It allows me to focus
on the interaction between the three spheres within this geographical area.
Katzer, Nikolaus. 2010. Soviet Physical Culture and Sport A European Legacy?
Presentation at Symposium on Sport and the Transformation of Modern Europe, Sport
in Modern Europe Network, Pembroke College, Cambridge, England.
This paper examines the central role that sporting glory had on the Soviet psyche
and thereby its central ideological role within the USSR. This is potentially useful
in providing a background to the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and also characterising
the relationship between Eastern and Western blocs from a unique Eastern
perspective. It will allow me to track how such a perspective has changed or
developed overtime to manifest itself in the present day at the imminent 2014 Sochi
Mills, Richard. 2013. Fighters, footballers and nation builders: wartime football in the
Serb-held territories of the former Yugoslavia, 19911996. Sport in Society 16(8): 945972.

With the onset of the Bosnian War in the post-Communist era, this article allows
me to reflect on the dual role of football as both a source that provided
entertainment, unity and morale boosting within the nations, but also a bitter zone
of conflict. It allows me to reflect on the political and ethnic propaganda that
stemmed from football, and thereby couch it within the terms of the continued
struggle between two distinct spheres.

PBS Secrets of the Dead. 2011. Doping for Gold. Last modified June 15 2011.
This documentary provides a useful and balanced representation of the role of
doping in Eastern bloc states. It allows me to reflect closely on the symbolic
importance of sport for these states and the extent to which they went to
reinforce their enthonationalist superiority. It is useful because it aids me in
grounding this analysis within a strong contextual framework.
Rinehart, R.E. 1996. Fists flew and blood flowed: Symbolic resistance and international
response in Hungarian waster polo at the Melbourne Olympics, 1956. Journal of Sport
History 23(2): 120-139.
This complements my analysis of the role of the conflict between Hungary and the
Soviet Union following Hungarys attempt at de-Stalinisation, with specifically
close analysis of the blood in the water incident that represents the important
symbolic role of sport and how political conflicts manifest themselves through it.

Riordan, James. 2007. The Impact of Communism on Sport. Historical Social

Research 32: 110-115.
This paper looks, rather interestingly, at how politics changed sport, rather than the
other way around. It will allow me to reflect on the role of a changing sport
dynamic, especially in Communist nations, with the growing opportunities for
women and how national minorities were integrated within the larger sporting
scheme. Within the terms of the essay, it will show the interaction between the
political and ethnonational.
Taylor, Matthew. 2013. Editorial sport, transnationalism, and global history. Journal
of Global History 8: 199-208. doi:10.1017/S1740022813000181.
This allows me to gain a broader geo-political analysis of sport and its importance
within the European context. It will allow me to reflect on the role of sport in
forming identities, and is particularly useful in understanding the modern sporting
arena such as the London 2012 Olympics and its role within this framework.