Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-568f69f84b-4g88t Total loading time: 0.26 Render date: 2021-09-21T12:27:44.441Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Sport, Cultural Imperialism, and Colonial Response in the British Empire

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 June 2009

Brian Stoddart
Canberra College of Advanced Education


Throughout the vast literature on British and general imperialism, the emphasis is largely upon the winning, then subsequent loss, of political control by the imperial power in colonial settings. Consequently, debate about the accession to that power has revolved largely about the great triad of considerations: economic necessity, strategic calculation, and civilising zeal. Similarly, discussion of emergent nationalist movements has hinged upon remarkably similar lines: Was the leadership of those movements motivated solely by ideologically inspired desires for independence, by the ambition to command the new sources of economic wealth developed under imperial rule, or by a simple thrust for political power to protect other interests? These are generalisations certainly, but, to take India as a case in point, much of the modern historiography has been concerned to demonstrate either how Britain “lost” or how the Indian National Congress “won” that power. But among such generalisations upon the British imperial experience, one interesting question has gone begging.

Cultural Power
Copyright © Society for the Comparative Study of Society and History 1988

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


1 Compare Low, D. A., ed., Congress and the Raj: Facets of the Indian Struggle, 1917–47 (London: Heinemann, 1977);Google ScholarGallagher, Johnet al., Locality, Province, and Nation: Essays on Indian Politics, 1870–1940 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973).Google Scholar Alternative views are now being promoted in the Subaltern Studies series of essays edited by Guha, Ranajit (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1984–).Google Scholar

2 For the Indian Civil Service, Malley, L. S. S. O', The Indian Civil Service, 16011930 (London: Cass, 1965);Google Scholar Sir Blunt, Edward, The ICS: The Indian Civil Service (London: Faber, 1937);Google ScholarSpagenberg, Bradford, British Bureaucracy in India: Status, Policy, and the I.C.S. in the Late Nineteenth Century (Delhi: South Asia, 1974).Google Scholar

3 There is an enormous literature on imperialism generally and British imperialism particularly. One especially provocative work so far as this article is concerned, however, is Maunier, René, The Sociology of Colonies: An Introduction to the Study of Race Contact, 2 vols. (London: RKP, 1949).Google Scholar

4 For examples of colonial planning, Preston, R. A., Defence of the Undefended Border: Planning for War in North America, 1867–1939 (Toronto: McGill University Press, 1978);Google ScholarPreston, Richard A. and Wards, Ian, “Military and Defence Development in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand: A Three-Way Comparison,” War and Society, 5:1 (05 1987).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

5 Mulga, Alan, Home: A New Zealanders Adventure (London: Longmans, 1927);Google ScholarChaudhuri, Nirad, The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968);Google ScholarJames, C. L. R., Beyond a Boundary (London: Hutchinson, 1963).Google Scholar

6 For the origins of the nation language theme, Braithwaite, Edward, “The African Presence in Caribbean Literature,” Daedalus, 103(Spring 1974);Google Scholaridem, History of the Voice: Development of Nation Language in Anglophone Caribbean Poetry (London: New Beacon, 1984);Google ScholarPubMed and Thiong'o, Ngugi Wa, Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature (London: Curry, 1986).Google Scholar

7 The role of sport is invariably overlooked in general studies on British imperialism, but one small exception is in Hyam, Ronald, Britain's Imperial Century, 1815–1914: A Study of Empire and Expansion (New York: Harper and Row, 1976).Google Scholar A limited set of essays is Mangan, J. A., The Games Ethic and Imperialism (London: Viking, 1986).Google Scholar

8 See, for example, Gramsci, Antonio, The Modern Prince and Other Writings (New York: International, 1975);Google ScholarFemia, Joseph V., Gramsci's Political Thought: Hegemony, Consciousness, and the Revolutionary Process (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981);Google ScholarHoffman, John, The Gramscian Challenge: Coercion and Consent in Marxist Political Theory (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984);Google ScholarLears, T. J. Jackson, “The Concept of Cultural Hegemony: Problems and Possibilities,” American Historical Review, 90:3 (06 1985).CrossRefGoogle Scholar For some cautionary remarks, see the interview with Eric Hobsbawm in Abelove, Henryet al., Visions of History (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1983).Google Scholar For some applications to sport, see Parry, J., “Sport and Hegemony,” Journal of Spon Philosophy, 10 (1984).Google Scholar

9 For examples, Bourdieu, Pierre, “Sport and Social Class,” Social Science Information, 17:6 (1978),CrossRefGoogle Scholaridem, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984);Google ScholarHall, Stuart and Jefferson, Tony, eds., Resistance through Rituals (London: Hutchinson, 1976).Google Scholar

10 See discussion of works by Adorno, Theordore and Benjamin, Walter in Held, David, Introduction to Critical Theory: From Horkheimer to Habermas (London: Hutchinson, 1980).Google Scholar A good example of the influence of this general work on sports analysis is Hargreaves, John, Sport, Power, and Culture: A Social and Historical Analysis of Popular Sports in Britain (New York: St. Martin's, 1986).Google Scholar

11 For a review, Sadiford, Keith A. P., “The Victorians at Play: Problems in Historiographical Methodology,” Journal of Social History, 15:2 (Winter 1981).Google Scholar For a case study of cause and effect, Mandle, W. F., “Games People Played: Cricket and Football in England and Victoria in the Late Nineteenth Century,” Historical Studies 15:60 (04 1973).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

12 For an indication, Bailey, Peter, Leisure and Class in Victorian England: Rational Recreation and the Contest for Control, 1830–1885 (London: RKP, 1978);Google Scholar also Meller, H. E., Leisure and the Changing City, 1870–1914 (London: RKP, 1976).Google Scholar

13 The main work in this area is Mangan, J. A., Athleticism in the Victorian and Edwardian Public School: The Emergence and Consolidation of an Educational Ideology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).Google Scholar

14 For example, Scott, Patrick, “Cricket and the Religious World in the Victorian Period,” Church Quarterly, 3:1 (07 1970).Google Scholar

15 Longrigg, Roger, The History of Horse Racing (New York: Stein and Day, 1972),Google Scholar outlines this spread; for the origins, British, Vamplew, Wray, The Turf.: A Social and Economic History (London: Allen Lane, 1976).Google Scholar

16 Swanton, E. W., ed., Barclay's World of Cricket (London: Collins, 1980), is a convenient guide.Google Scholar

17 Captain Johnstone, Robert, A Brief Historical Survey of the British West Indies at Risley, 1902–1950 (Port of Spain: Government Printing Office, 1951).Google Scholar

18 Mason, Nicholas, Football! (London: Temple Smith, 1974),Google ScholarPubMed sketches the story. For a major example, Chester, R. H. and McMillan, N. A. C., Centenary: 100 Years of All Black Rugby (Auckland: Moa, 1984).Google Scholar

19 For example, the Badminton Library series of instructional works on sport, edited by the Eighth Duke of Beaufort and A. E. T. Watson.

20 For example, Buckland, C. T., Sketches of Social Life in India (London: Allen, 1884);Google ScholarTroup, Major W., Sporting Memories: My Life as Gloucestershire County Cricketer, Rugby and Hockey Player, and Member of the Indian Police Service (London: Hutchinson, 1924);Google ScholarInglis, James, Tent Life in Tigerland and Sport and Work on the Nepaul Frontier (Sydney: Hutchinson, 1888).Google Scholar

21 See Mangan, J. A., “Eton in India: The Imperial Diffusion of a Victorian Educational Ethic,” History of Education, 7:2 (1978);CrossRefGoogle ScholarWild, Roland, Ranji (London: Rich and Cowan, 1934);Google ScholarNandy, Ashis, “Raji: Cricket, Nationalism, Politics, Person,” Frontline, 3:9 (3–16 05 1986), pp. 108–18.Google Scholar

22 For example, The Harrisonian 250th Anniversary Issue (Bridgetown: Harrison's, 1983);Google Scholar also Sandiford, Keith and Stoddart, Brian, “The Elite Schools and Cricket in Barbados: A Study in Colonial Continuity,” International Journal of the History of Spon, 4, 3 (12 1987).Google Scholar

23 Harrisonian (December 1932).

24 South African Cricketers' Annual (18911892), p. 21;Google ScholarGrubb, Norman P., C. T. Studd: Cricketer and Pioneer (London: Butterworth, 1933); J. A. Mangan, “Christ and the imperial Games Fields: Evangelical Athletes of the Empire,” University of Alberta paper, Edmonton, 1983; Liddell was portrayed in the film Chariots of Fire.Google Scholar

25 See West Indies Cricket Annual (1979), p. 82.Google Scholar

26 Chester, Greville John, Transatlantic Sketches (London: Smith Elder, 1869); the Trobriand case is outlined later in this article.Google Scholar

27 See Pollard, Jack, The Pictorial History of Australian Horse Racing (Sydney: Lansdowne, 1981), 164,Google Scholar for the background; also Hara, John O', A Mug's Game: A History of Gaming and Betting in Australia (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 1988).Google Scholar

28 Referee (22 01 1890), p. 1.Google Scholar

29 The Rules of the Jockey Club of South Africa together with Regulations Made Thereunder (Johannesburg: Radford-Adlington, 1961).Google Scholar For an indication of racing's longstanding popularity, Johannesburg: A Sunshine City Built on Gold (Johannesburg: JPA, 1931), 29.Google Scholar

30 For example, Report of the Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly Appointed to Inquire into the Alleged Surfeit of Horse Racing, Parliamentary Papers of Western Australia, 1905, I, A2.Google Scholar

31 See Dale, T. F., Polo Past and Present (London: Country Life, 1905).Google Scholar For an account of the original form of the game, Dufferin, Lady, Our Viceregal Life in India (London: Murray, 1893), 402.Google Scholar

32 deLisle, H. deB., Polo in India (Bombay: Thacker, 1907), iii.Google Scholar

33 The Finch-Hatton, Hon., Advance Australia (London: Allen, 1885), 363.Google Scholar

34 Harris, Lord, A Few Short Runs (London: Murray, 1921).Google Scholar

35 Willingdon took a keen interest in the game in all its colonial settings, and Jackson became a Marylebone Cricket Club Committee member.

36 For these two, Hawke, Lord, Recollections and Reminiscences (London: Williams and Norgate, 1924), 165;Google Scholar Sir Williams, Ralph, Howl Became a Governor (London: Murray, 1913), 229.Google Scholar

37 South African Cricketer's Annual (18911892), p. 1.Google Scholar

38 For example, the Imperial Cricket Council was not transformed into the International Cricket Council until the 1960s, well into the phase of political devolution.

39 Williams, A. H., “Polo in Jodphur,” Polo and Hunting Journal, 1:1 (07 1925).Google Scholar

40 The maharajahs of Jaipur were especially prominent in this regard.

41 Board, John, Polo (London: Faber, 1956).Google Scholar For a national example, Little, K. M., Polo in New Zealand (Wellington: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1956).Google Scholar

42 Colonial Office, (hereafter cited CO), 83/203/4, Public Records Office, London (hereafter cited PRO).

43 Sports and Sportsmen: South Africa (Cape Town: Atkinson, n.d.[1929]), I, v.Google Scholar

44 For the Indian case, Cashman, Richard, Patrons, Players, and the Crowd: The Phenomenon of Indian Cricket (Bombay: Orient Longman, 1980);Google Scholar for Australia, Mandle, W. F., “Cricket and Australian Nationalism in the Nineteenth Century,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 59:4 (12 1973).Google Scholar

45 For Australian regional examples, see Stoddart, Brian, “Spon and Society, 1890–1940: A Foray,” in A New History of Western Australia, Stannage, C. T., ed. (Perth: University of Western Australia, 1981);Google ScholarVamplew, Wray, “Sport: More than Fun and Games,” in The Flinders History of South Australia, Richards, Eric, ed. (Adelaide: Wakefield, 1986).Google Scholar

46 See the many references to cricket in the Menzies Papers, National Library of Australia, Canberra.

47 For this story, Stoddart, Brian, “Cricket and Colonialism in the English-Speaking Caribbean to 1914: Towards a Cultural Analysis,” in Pleasure, Profit, and Proselytism: British Culture and Sport, at Home and Abroad, 1750–1914, Mangan, J. A., ed. (London: Cass, 1988).Google Scholar

48 For an example, James, , Beyond a Boundary, 5557.Google Scholar

49 See [Wickham, Clennell], Pen and Ink Sketches (Bridgetown: Herald, 1921).Google Scholar

50 Who's Who in the Sporting World: Witwatersrand and Victoria—Rugby (Johannesburg: Sporting Who's Who, 1933), 23;Google ScholarFiji: Handbook of the Colony (Suva: Government of Fiji, 1936), 138.Google Scholar

51 Cashman, Patrons, Players, and the Crowd; also Pavri, M. E., Parsi Cricket (Bombay: Thacker, 1901).Google Scholar

52 See Stoddart, Brian, “Cricket, Social Formation, and Cultural Continuity in Barbados: A Preliminary Ethnohistory,” Journal of Sport History, 14, 3 (Winter 1987).Google Scholar A good fictional description of the Trinidadian situation is Mittelholzer, Edgar, A Morning at the Office (London: Heinemann, 1974).Google Scholar

53 The Adams story may be followed in Hoyos, F. A., Grantley Adams and the Social Revolution (London: Heinemann, 1974).Google Scholar

54 This section is from Cozier, Tony, The West Indies: Fifty Years of Test Cricket Brighton: Angus and Robertson, 1978Google Scholar The 1900 story is retold in Keating, Frank, Another Bloody Day in Paradise! (London: Deutsch, 1981), 31.Google Scholar

55 CO 83/233/11, PRO. For a detailed example of touring impacts, Brown, David, “Canadian Imperialism and Sport Exchanges: The Nineteenth-Century Cultural Experience of Cricket and Lacrosse,” Canadian Journal of History of Sport, 18:1 (05 1987).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

56 For Grace, see James, Beyond a Boundary; and Mandle, W. F., “W. G. Grace as a Victorian Hero,” Historical Studies, 19 (1981).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

57 Polo Monthly, 1:2 (04 1909), p. 92.Google Scholar

58 For Churchill on polo, see his My Early Life (London: Macmillan, 1943), 132–34.Google ScholarPubMed

59 See Wisden Cricketers' Almanack (London: John Wisden, 1939), 914–15.Google Scholar

60 South African Cricketers' Annual (18911892), p. 67.Google Scholar

61 There is a lengthy account in Smith, David and Williams, Gareth, Fields of Praise (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1980), 154–68;Google Scholar see also Phillips, Jock, A Man's Country? The Image of the Pakeha Male: A History (Auckland: Penguin, 1987), ch. 3.Google Scholar

62 For one version, Hammond, Walter R., Cricket My World (London: Paul, n.d.), 101.Google Scholar

63 See L/I/l/259–58, L/I/1/251–58–1, India Office Library, London.

64 The specific discussion of the imperial dimension to this story is in Ric Sissons and Stoddart, Brian, Cricket and Empire: The 1932–33 Bodyline Tour of Australia (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1984).Google Scholar

65 The general picture from Stoddart, Brian, “Sport, Culture, and Postcolonial Relations: The Commonwealth Games,” in Sport and Politics, Redmond, Gerald S., ed. (Champaign: Human Kinetics, 1986);Google Scholar for the detailed origins, Moore, Katharine, “The Concept of British Empire Games: An Analysis of Its Origin and Evolution from 1891 to 1930” (Ph.D. thesis, University of Queensland, 1987).Google Scholar

66 Mandle, “Cricket and Australian Nationalism.”

67 Sarkar, Sumit, Swadeshi Movement in Bengal, 1903–1908 (New Delhi: People's, 1973).Google Scholar

68 See The Englishman (13 02 1895).Google Scholar

69 Nayak (30 July 1911) in Native Newspaper Reports: Bengal (5 August 1911).

70 Rosselli, John, “The Self-Image of Effeteness: Physical Education and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Bengal,” Past and Present, no. 86 (02 1980).CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed

71 For the British story, Dunning, Eric and Sheard, Kenneth, Barbarians, Gentlemen, and Players: A Sociological Study of the Development of Rugby Football (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1979).Google Scholar

72 For some indications, Wakelam, H. B. T., The Game Goes On (London: Barker, 1936).Google Scholar

73 For example, Hobbs, J. B., Recovering the Ashes: An Account of the Cricket Tour in Australia, 1911–12 (London: Pitman, 1912).Google Scholar

74 For the rise of Australian sport, see Stoddart, Brian, Saturday Afternoon Fever: Sport in the Australian Culture (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1986).Google Scholar

75 Christian, F. W. and Fischer, E. H., “Cricket as She is Played in Samoa,” Badminton Magazine, 25 (0712 1907), 7884.Google Scholar

76 Christian, F. W. and Fischer, E. H., “Cricket in the South Seas,” Badminton Magazine, 25 (0712 1907), 553–62.Google Scholar For Fiji, see also Sir Voeux, G. William Des, My Colonial Service (London: Murray, 1901), II, 8889.Google Scholar

77 This story is best portrayed in the ethnographic film, Trobriand Cricket, made by Jerry Leach; for a similar view concerning Ocean Island, Grimble, Arthur, A Pattern of Islands (London: Murray, 1952), 4852.Google Scholar

78 Foreign Office, 371/12606/3771/38, 11 August 1927, PRO. See also Jones, Stephen G., “State Intervention in Sport and Leisure in Britain between the Wars,” Journal of Contemporary History, 22 (1987).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

79 Steven Jones, “Sport and Politics: The Community Sports Movement in Britain, 19281935,” paper presented at the Eighth International Economic History Congress, Budapest, August 1982.

80 Stoeldart, Brian, “Sport, Cultural Politics, and International Relations: England versus Germany, 1935,” in Sport History, Muller, Norbert and Ruhi, Joachim K., eds. (Neidernhausen: Schors-Verlag, 1985);Google ScholarBeck, Peter, “England v. Germany, 1938,” History Today, 32 (06 1982).Google Scholar

81 For example, The Inter-Allied Games, 1919 (Paris: Games Committee, 1919).Google Scholar

82 See McKernan, Michael, “Sport, War, and Society: Australia, 1914–1918,” in Sport in History, Cashman, Richard and McKeman, Michael, eds. (Brisbane: University of Queensland Press, 1979);Google Scholar and Veitch, Colin, “Play up! Play up! And Win the War! Football, the Nation, and the First World War, 1914–15,” Journal of Contemporary History, 20:3 (07 1985).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

83 For example, McHenry, Dean E., Jr., “The Use of Sports in Policy Implementation: The Case of Tanzania,” Journal of Modern African Studies, 18:2 (1980).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

84 For the general story, Lewis, Gordon K., The Growth of the Modern West Indies (New York: Modern, 1968).Google Scholar

85 See Swocton, E. W., Sort of a Cricket Person (London: Fontana, 1972), 180–83.Google Scholar

86 Marshall, W. K., “Gary Sobers and the Brisbane Revolution,” New World Quarterly, 2:1 (1965).Google Scholar

87 There is a considerable literature on this subject, but see Archer, Robert and Bouillon, Antoine, The South African Game: Sport and Racism (London: Zed, 1982).Google Scholar

88 Dale, T. F., The Eighth Duke of Beaufort and the Badminton Hunt (London: Constable, 1901), 137.Google Scholar

Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Sport, Cultural Imperialism, and Colonial Response in the British Empire
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Sport, Cultural Imperialism, and Colonial Response in the British Empire
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Sport, Cultural Imperialism, and Colonial Response in the British Empire
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *