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13 Things 2009

13 Things 2008

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology

Search Brown



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
[email protected]

We plan to approach the football from two angles. First, we plan to explore the ambiguous materiality of the football. Aside from actual manufactured footballs, there exist a colossal number of ‘makeshift’ footballs - - whether they be other types of balls, rolled up pieces of paper, or even a few rags tied together in a ball. In fact, anything that can be made into a sphere and kicked can become a sort of football. Because these ‘makeshift’ versions of the football are more ubiquitous than actual footballs, the question is raised: what exactly constitutes a football? If a makeshift version of a thing supercedes the original thing itself in the commonality of its use, then what is the essence of the original object? At what point does the stand in object become the actual object? And finally, do these different versions of the ball affect how we think about and play football?

Second, we want to explore the football from a more phenomenological standpoint – not in terms of football as global phenomenon (which is fascinating, but beyond the scope of this course), but in terms of the way one physically interacts with the object. As we increasingly use our hands in everyday life, the interaction between a thing and the human foot is increasingly rare. In a world filled with ball sports, what exactly is so appealing about the idea of a ball interacting with one’s feet? Physically, one of the traits that make us human is our ability to stand upright. Because of this, the easiest and simplest way for one to move is by foot. With this in mind, the interaction between a football and a person has a sort of inexplicable appeal - - the entire relationship between human and object hinges on the integration of the thing - a sphere - into the most basic of human actions – moving on foot. We will also delve into how the ball, and different types of balls, interact with different parts of our body. Finally, we aim to discuss how the ball signifies positions of power, and what it means to interact with an object that is designed to mediate a relationship between multiple people. How does it feel to pass the ball? Or to possess it?

Using these ways in as a springboard, we will briefly touch on how these qualities have propelled the football to its premier status in the global consciousness, with an eye towards how so much cultural and political power can be endowed to such a simple object.

References to be used (more to follow):