Do you want to know why an anthropologist is interested in football culture in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
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Friday, 9 November 2007


This blog consists of impressions of an anthropologist about football culture of Bosnia who has been living in Sarajevo since February 2007 for a fieldwork entitled ““Football Fandom as a Factor in Formation of Cultural Differences: The Case of FK Sarajevo and NK Zeljeznicar in Sarajevo”.

Why a man would become an anthropologist, and why could he be interested in “football culture”? Above all, why he specifically goes all the way to Bosnia and Herzegovina to conduct a research about the football culture of another country and besides makes trouble himself to open a blog about it?

If you are interested in that, read the brief inscription below. If you do not want to bother yourself with it, just take a look at the blog and probably it will evoke your concerns and make you to come here back.

Being side by side with academia, I would prefer to introduce into the subject matter with some boring academic staff.

As well as sociology is the science that is interested in social facts and events, economics is interested in production and distribution, the basic concept of “anthropology” is “culture” where the term itself is formed by the conjugation of “anthropo” which means “mankind” and “logos” which means “science”. The generally accepted definition of the term “culture”, which is a term deprived from Latin word “cultura” that means “agriculture, is; “Things which the people possess, think and do as members of a society”. In other words, everything related to mankind is a part of culture. In spite of the general consideration, culture is not only possessed by literate, university educated, those who often goes to theaters, etc. Everybody, every society, every community has a unique culture. Culture is learned, shared, (re)produced and highly valued with symbolic meanings. Another feature of culture is that, it has “special” fields and meanings as well as general ones, such as Aborigine culture, Rock culture, or any local cultures, etc. Football culture is such a unique specific culture. Only by looking at the history of football itself may help us to conceive how it has a unique, specific culture.

Without doubt, games similar to football had been played in different places and in different eras like the ts’u(Ts’=to play, kü=foot) that was played in China around 2600 BC (4600 years before). However, the birthplace of modern football is recognized as England. The reason behind that fact is that, the rules of the modern football had been shaped in England. It cannot be just a coincidence that England is also the first industrialized country. It was unavoidable to keep football away from the culture of “modernism” when everything in the society had begun to function like the wheels in a factory. Spread of industrialism, and modernism in all over the world had surely affected “football”. In fact, whether if by colonization, or by trade, one of the cultural facts that the English had brought with themselves was “football”.

Football, which had been diffused to the globe from England, was quite successful in digesting the local cultural peculiarities. New styles of football appeared like Brazilian style, African or Italian styles and even Danube style. The reader might have realized that I am trying to take the word to something close to the region. Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of those where the Danube School was effective. I have to mention about my “special” interest in Balkans, which can be an answer to my interest to Balkan football among many other regions in the world. But why is it Bosnia and Herzegovina?

With some exceptions, those who come to BiH for a research likely to be interested in post-war social relations, ethnic conflicts and such topics. Even, it becomes very difficult for a social researcher to find funding for his/her research if he will not deal with those topics in BiH. In fact, it has been twelve years since the war had passed. The great influence of Western countries that perceive the “region” as a chess field prolongs the effects of the war. Despite those, very different dynamics do appear in the daily lives of the ordinary people. That is what made that anthropologist to conduct a research on those different dynamics through football fandom, and come along to BiH after having a fond from TÜBİTAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) with great difficulties. Of course, I think I do not need to explain why my topic is about “football”. Just pass me a ball, a smashed can or a pinecone, and watch out how I react despite my really very limited talent of playing football.

Another aim of me to establish such a blog is about my desire to have a travel in the enjoyable and daily journeys of football, apart from the narrow area of academia. Of course, I do not hide that the critiques, or any sort of feedback may transform you to be my study subject. So, be careful about it.

And, of course I cannot be tolerant more on the fact that this peaceful, lovely and friendly country is still only recognized with war, blood and violence. Maybe this blog may have a modest oasis where I can share that kind of “intolerance”.


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