Sport events and ethnic reconciliation: attempting to create social change between Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim sportspeople in war-torn Sri Lanka

Sage Publications Ltd
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 2010, 45 (3), pp. 273 - 294
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Reconciliation is about bringing disparate communities together and creating the intercommunication necessary to reduce intergroup barriers, generate understanding, and connect with others to achieve a peaceful togetherness. This paper investigates the role of sport events in contributing to reconciliation and inclusive social change between disparate communities in ethnically divided Sri Lanka. Following an interpretive mode of enquiry, findings suggest that if strategically designed, sport events allow the establishment of interpersonal friendships and the creation of inclusive social identities along national lines, organisational lines, common interests and imagined factors. Events can create âmomenta of togethernessâ for members of disparate ethnic groups and as such may contribute to positive social change and a sense of imagiNation. While sport events provide a starting point, booster and catalyst for positive social change and development on a community level, they need to be integrated into a larger agenda of socio-political support to make a significant contribution to reconciliation and peace in divided societies.
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