Join Todd Cleveland, associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas, at 6 p.m. March 23 for a discussion entitled: Following the Ball: The Migration of African Soccer Players across the Portuguese Colonial Empire, 1949-1975. The event will take place in the Liberal Arts Building, room 123 on NAU’s Flagstaff Mountain campus.
Based on a book of the same name, Following the Ball examines the experiences of African football players from Portugal’s colonies as they relocated to Portugal between 1949 and the conclusion of the colonial era in 1975, examining the Estado Novo regime’s use of the players as propaganda to present a unified colonial front.
Cleveland zeroes in on how players such as the great Eusébio exploited opportunities generated by shifts in the political landscape and how they often assumed new roles to support the causes of their home countries.
His lecture presents the arguments put forward in his book, Following the Ball: The Migration of African Soccer Players across the Portuguese Colonial Empire, 1949-1975, which works to reconstruct these players’ transnational histories, tracing their lives from the soccer fields of colonial Africa to the manicured pitches of Europe, while also focusing on their lives off-the-field.
Todd Cleveland is an associate professor of history at the University of Arkansas. His books include these Ohio University Press titles: Sports in Africa, Past and Present (2020), Following the Ball: The Migration of African Soccer Players across the Portuguese Colonial Empire, 1949–1975 (2018), Diamonds in the Rough: Corporate Paternalism and African Professionalism on the Mines of Colonial Angola, 1917–1975 (2015) and Stones of Contention: A History of Africa’s Diamonds (2014).
As fans gear up for the FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer, community members will be engaged in this innovative take on the history of the world’s most popular and beautiful game.
“The great impact that this book will have is not only to look at colonialism through soccer and the experiences of African players in various Portuguese colonial contexts, but—more significantly—to refocus discussions of colonialism and cultural practices on the local and colonized.” – Roger Kittleson, author of The Country of Football: Soccer and the making of Modern Brazil.
The discussion, which is free and open to the public.