From the outside lane: issues of 'race' in South African athletics in the twentieth century

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In this article Merrett first places the marginalized position of Blacks in South African athletics in the context of racism and the social control exercised by municipalities and mining companies over a rapidly urbanizing inter-war African working class. With the introduction of apartheid, segregation and subordination of Blacks were entrenched, although there was significant non-racial opposition. International exclusion encouraged reform in the guise of multinational sport and the gradual depoliticization of athletics during the 1970s, albeit within the context of an enduring racist society. Conservative administrators who policed segregation now congratulated themselves on integration, although there were strong dissenting voices. Insiders had reversed their position as international pariahs by accepting outsiders of other ethnic groups.

Keywords: South Africa; apartheid; athletics; group areas; mines; racism; running; segregation; social control; sports boycott

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2004

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