Race, Sport, and PhilosophyGrant Farred
The Burden of Over-representation artfully explores three curious racial moments in sport: Jackie Robinson’s expletive at a Dodgers spring training game; the transformation of a formality into an event at the end of the 1995 rugby World Cup in South Africa; and a spectral moment at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Grant Farred examines the connotations at play in these moments through the lenses of race, politics, memory, inheritance and conciliation, deploying a surprising cast of figures in Western thought, ranging from Jacques Derrida and Friedrich Nietzsche to Judith Butler, William Shakespeare, and Jesus-the-Christ. Farred makes connection and creates meaning through the forces at play and the representational burdens of team, country and race.
Farred considers Robinson’s profane comments at black Dodgers fans, a post-match exchange of “thank yous” on the rugby pitch between white South African captain François Pienaar and Nelson Mandela, and being “haunted” by the ghost of Derrida on the occasion of the first FIFA World Cup on African soil. In doing so, The Burden of Over-representation provides a passionate, insightful analysis of the social, political, racial, and cultural consequences of conciliation at key sporting events.
" Grant Farred has long been our ‘prose laureate’ at the intersection of sports, philosophy, and politics. With The Burden of Over-representation , he outdoes himself: looking at critical, forgotten moments in our sports history with a lens utterly original and entirely his own."
—Dave Zirin, Sports Editor, The Nation magazine
" In binding together his abiding passions—literary theory, sport, and Africa (and its diaspora)—and spurring them to illuminate one another, Grant Farred delivers his best work yet. Three extraordinary moments in sport in three parts of the globe are the texts on which he unleashes his incandescent mind, unmatched political acumen, and glorious way with words. The Burden of Over-representation is also an exceptional contribution to the study of racial significations in this mad species of ours."
Wendy Brown, Class of 1936 First Chair, University of California, Berkeley
" Who would interpret the significance of race in a framework of sport, holding a canvas of Algerian philosopher Jacques Derrida’s thoughts, and splatter it with an anecdote from the sporting life of transformative black American baseball player Jackie Robinson and a memorialized meeting between white South African rugby captain François Pienaar and the freed black anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela? Grant Farred, that’s who. The Burden of Over-representation , born when Farred witnessed the 2010 World Cup in his native South Africa, is a lyrical philosophical abstract at the crowded intersection of race and sport viewed through Farred’s unique diasporized cultural lens."
Kevin Blackistone, University of Maryland Professor, Washington Post columnist, and ESPN panelist
"Farred explores overrepresentation.... us(ing) the examples of Jackie Robinson’s breakthrough to Major League baseball, white South African rugby player François Pienaar and Nelson Mandela’s interaction after the rugby World Cup in 1995, and South Africa’s hosting of the soccer World Cup in 2010.... The book is well written and structured, maintaining a flow when introducing each new case of overrepresentation.... Summing Up: Recommended."
" Grant Farred offers a major work on Derrida and sport, using race as a timely theme. This book is hardly the one to introduce sport philosophers to Derrida, but it provides a robust engagement with the French- Algerian deconstructionist.... The Burden of Over-representation sits at the intersection of race, sport, politics, and philosophy – a busy intellectual space. Farred’s creativity and command in this arena can be an inspiration for scholars to reassert the value of deep philosophical thinking on seemingly mundane ‘events’ in sport as well as timely political issues."
—Journal of the Philosophy of Sport