We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

Safe Enactments of Difference: An Ethnographic Study of Cricket and Social Change in Post-War Sri Lanka

HILDRED, BENJAMIN,MARCUS (2022) Safe Enactments of Difference: An Ethnographic Study of Cricket and Social Change in Post-War Sri Lanka. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

Full text not available from this repository.
Author-imposed embargo until 21 November 2023.


In the aftermath of Sri Lanka’s civil war (1983-2009), claims have been made that cricket can help with ongoing processes of reconciliation. In this thesis, I critically assess these claims through an ethnographic study of Sri Lankan cricket, detailing the potential and limits of the social relations that sport can produce. In doing so, I explore whether and how sport can indeed play a reconciliatory role in post-conflict states. Predominantly based in Colombo, my ethnographic research covers a diverse cross-section of the Sri Lankan ‘cricket community’, homing in on one amateur cricket club. By considering a wide range of cricketing activity, including playing, spectating, coaching, and development, I convey how my interlocutors come to understand themselves and others through cricket. I show how people deploy and negotiate social ideals derived from cricket, mapping out the various tensions that emerge when individual and collective interests come into conflict. I argue that in managing these tensions, my interlocutors learn also to manage differences between persons. As such, I argue that cricket involves engagement in ‘safe enactments of difference’. I suggest this is evidence that cricket has some merit as a tool for social good. However, I also contend that cricket promotes personal responsibility to the wider whole, placing excessive emphasis on individual change. Through cricket people are taught control, learning how to manage their circumstances. So, while cricket helps individuals make change in their own lives, it rarely leads them to question the social system they exist within. As such, I conclude that cricket seems unlikely to effect social change at a systemic, structural level, and the prospect of using cricket for reconciliation is limited. In this ethnographic study I therefore reflect on the wider issues around attempting to use sports in the hope of enacting positive social change.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:cricket, reconciliation, social change, Sport for Development and Peace (SDP), sport
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:22 Nov 2022 10:25

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter