Photo © Leopoldo Peña - RCMC

Playing with Tradition?

Mexican Indigenous Games in an Age of Globalisation and Migration

This project explores the role of sport in society, especially in processes of migration, globalisation, and community and identity formation. The project ran from 2008-2016.

Pelota Mixteca

Playing with Tradition? Mexican Indigenous Games in an Age of Globalisation and Migration focuses on pelota mixteca, an indigenous handball game originally from the state of Oaxaca (Mexico), that is played today on both sides of the US-Mexican border.

Three principal questions guide the research:

  1. What is the relation between pelota mixteca and the well-known prehispanic Mesoamerican ballgame? Is pelota mixteca a game of prehispanic origin, or was it introduced by the Spaniards after the Conquest of Mexico?
  2. What role does the game play in the formation of indigenous (migrant) communities, both in the game’s homeland in Oaxaca, and farther afield, in Mexico-City and in the United States of America, especially the state of California?
  3. How has the Mexican state treated the game of pelota mixteca? What discourse was created around the game, how has government promotion of the game, or the lack thereof, influenced the social status of the game, and how have government policies changed under the influence of 20th and 21st century globalisation?

Photo credit: Leopoldo Peña

Past project
This is a past project