Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 March 2012
As this volume demonstrates, the cultures of recreation, sport and the body in South Asia have increasingly attracted the attention of academic researchers interested in exploring aspects of South Asian society. Understandably, the more obviously ‘important’ pastimes were the focus of early work. For instance, the histories of cricket (Cashman 1980; Bose 1990; Guha 2002) and football (Dimeo and Mills 2001; Dimeo 2002) have been well documented as have some of the more salient indigenous body cultures (Alter 1992; Zarrilli 1998). Other studies have focused on specific individuals or times and places, thus drawing out the micro-level motivations and strategies of key participants. Such studies were bold and innovative, bridging the gap between sports studies and South Asian studies, and leading to a wider awareness of sport among social historians.
Golf has been in South Asia for over a century, playing an important role in colonial relations but failing to keep up with global developments in the period after Independence. In this, the sport's fate mirrored that of football. Unlike football, however, golf has been almost entirely ignored by historians, perhaps because there are no moments of historical gravity to compel nationalist re-visioning or no radical oppression of indigenous traditions to fire up post-colonial critics. Yet golf is full of potential to the historian because of its value-laden institutional culture and the demands that it makes upon the individual's behaviour patterns and somatic styles.