HomeLe documentaire engagé : sport dans les Amériques

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Published on Thursday, December 01, 2022


This monographic dossier of IdeAs. Idées d'Amériques examines the relationship between sport, politics and society through the prism of documentary film.



IdeAs. Idées d'Amériques is the open access online journal of the Institute of the Americas. Commited to a multidisciplinary approach that combines new perspectives emerging out of the social sciences and humanities, this journal is devoted to the study of the entire American contient, which pursues through the publication of two thematic issues each year that favor comparative and transnational approaches. IdeAs seeks to take advantage of its online format to publish articles in multiple languages, and to create forums for debates and exchanges on its selected themes

This monographic dossier examines the relationship between sport, politics and society through the prism of documentary film. It is a continuation of the reflection and research initiated during the second edition of the festival organized by the Institut des Amériques from April 4 to 10, 2022. The festival dealt with "The socially engaged documentary in the Americas" which gave rise to a study day on the same theme.

Sports scholars Daniel Durbin and Yann Descamps describe this relationship between sports, media and political discourse:

Sport is a global phenomenon whose impact goes far beyond mere entertainment. It expresses and, in performance, embodies moral and cultural values, and it can be a force for change as well as an instrument to control the masses. While sports have always had significant political implications, as the Olympics have shown throughout their history the political dimension of sports spectacle plays out not only on the sports stage, but through media narratives which engage and, at times, shape political discourse.

Documentary film is and has been the perfect vehicle to communicate the stories of these political sports figures to the masses. Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia (1938) is a perfect example of co-opting the Olympic games for national propaganda, although in an ironic twist of fate the film actually promoted Jesse Owens thus unwittingly disproving the hypothesis of the superior Aryan athlete.

However, documentary film can also send a message that highlights social commitment and the resistance to injustice and discrimination as seen in the documentary Muhammad Ali the Greatest by William Klein (1969) on Mohamed Ali. The film closely linked his career as a boxer and his political commitment. This was also the case in 100% Woman (2004) by the Canadian Karen Duthie who chronicled the difficult journey of the transgender cyclist Michelle Dumaresq.

Some of these works also trace the history of a sport by emphasizing its role in social and political developments as was the case of Free to Run (2016) by Pierre Morath for the sport of running since the 1960s or El juego de Cuba by Manuel Martín Cuenca (2001) which revisited the history of the island through that of its national sport, baseball.

Some documentary films decide to focus on the triumph of the individual (When We Were Kings, Leon Gast, 1996) but in others the star can be an entire team (Nos llaman guerreras, Jennifer Socorro, David Alonso, Edwin Corona Ramos, 2018); it can focus on a specific sport (Baseball in El juego de Cuba, Manuel Martín Cuenca, 2001) or it can convey a sharp social critique as was the case in Steve James Hoop Dreams (1994) that explored issues of race, class and education in the USA.

The dossier we are submitting for publication in IdeAs covers these aspects of sports documentary from a trans-American perspective. This issue, "The Socially Engaged Documentary: Sport in the Americas", will contain articles from specialists working in the English, Spanish and Portuguese speaking areas.

Here is a list of some suggested themes in the context of the Americas:

  • Sports documentaries and politics

  • Social and/or economic issues through the lens of sports documentaries

  • Aesthetics and narration of sports documentaries

Submission guidelines

Proposals can be submitted in French, English, Spanish or Portuguese. Please, also make sure to provide:

  • a title

  • an abstract (500 words max.)

  • 5 keywords

  • a short academic bio-bibliography (10-15 lines)

Email your proposal to the editors of the forthcoming issue before June 21, 2023:

  • Marianne Bloch-Robin: marianne.bloch-robin@sorbonne-universite.fr
  • Alberto da Silva: a.dasilva8888@gmail.com
  • David Lipson: lipson.fr@gmail.com
  • Véronique Pugibet: prof.pugibet@gmail.com
  • Françoise Martinez: francoise.martinez@sorbonne-universite.fr
  • Hélène Quanquin: helene.quanquin@univ-lille.fr


  • Marianne Bloch-Robin (Associate Professor, Sorbonne University);
  • Alberto da Silva (Associate Professor, Sorbonne University);
  • David Lipson (Associate Professor, University of Strasbourg);
  • Véronique Pugibet (Associate Professor, Sorbonne University).


  • Wednesday, June 21, 2023


  • documentaire, sport, politique, Amériques


  • Matthieu Baudry
    courriel : recherche [at] institutdesameriques [dot] fr

Information source

  • Matthieu Baudry
    courriel : recherche [at] institutdesameriques [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Le documentaire engagé : sport dans les Amériques », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, December 01, 2022, https://calenda.org/1036014

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