Research in colonial studies has traditionally revolved around the historical, political and economic aspects of the colonial regime. By ‘Orientalising the Orient’, the coloniser ensured that his subjects would aspire to grow to become like him. The British Empire was, however, built less by military force and more through cultural reinforcement. To this end, the British engaged many tools: religion, language and sport.
Sport is a universal element in all cultures, which has immense ramifications in a civil society. In fact, with the coming of age of Popular Culture studies by academia, sport is being studied exclusively from historical, political and economic perspectives.
The study made the case for an unremitting academic focus on sport, from a colonial and post-colonial perspective. The uniqueness and the interdisciplinary nature of this study was in its bringing together popular culture and literary theories to establish its hypothesis. The study traced the colonial path to the growth of the game in the colony through the colonial postulates of Edward Said and Homi K Bhabha.
It discussed the move from the ‘exclusivity’ of the English to the ‘mimicry’ of the natives as a part of the informal modes of rule employed in a colonial framework. Once formal modes of rule were employed in the Empire, phases of ‘cultural reinforcement’ by the colonists followed by ‘patronage’ by the natives were delineated. At every phase, the research is systematically classified and evidenced with examples from seminal historical narratives in the sport.
The second part of this study expounded how the very same tool that was used to establish the native’s ‘effeminacy’ was used to invert the hegemony. The study argued how decolonisaton in this case did not occur through ‘rejection’ of the colonial culture, but paradoxically, through ‘adaptation’ and ‘assimilation’ in clear colonial terms.
The concluding section of the study ensured recency and relevance by discussing the extension of the decolonising moves in recent times, in the game of cricket, to ‘subvert authority’. A parallel was drawn of this stage with the carnival of the medieval times, studied through the framework of Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of carnival.