In 2010, the World Cup will be hosted on the African continent for the first time. When FIFA, the world soccer governing body, awarded the World Cup to South Africa in May 2004, Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first democratically elected president, exclaimed, "I feel like a 15 year old," echoing the sentiment of millions of Africans.
Historically, the continent has been shunned by world football, being viewed mainly as a cheap source of talent for Europe's football leagues. Expectations are therefore high for this tournament, and debates about football and its wider significance have ensued. To mark the event, a panel of journalists, writers, and academics -- who are, most importantly, all fans of the game -- tackles soccer's relation to development, nation building, identity, expression, politics, history, media images, and consumption.
Sean Jacobs, assistant professor at the graduate program in International Affairs, leads a panel that includes Time magazine's senior editor Tony Karon; Austin Merrill, author of the Fair Play blog for Vanity Fair; and writers Binyavanga Wainaina and Teju Cole.
The discussion features film and video clips. Sponsored by the graduate program in International Affairs.
Teju Cole is a writer and photographer. He grew up in Lagos, and now lives in Brooklyn.
Sean Jacobs, a native of Cape Town, South Africa, holds a Ph.D. in Politics from the University of London and a M.A. in Political Science from Northwestern University.
He is working on a book on the intersection of mass media, globalization and liberal democracy in postapartheid South Africa. He is co-editor of Thabo Mbeki's World: The Politics and Ideology of the South African President (Zed Books, 2002) and two other books. His most recent scholarly articles have appeared in Politique Africaine (2006) and Media, Culture, and Society (2007). He is a regular contributor to the Guardian's Comment is Free site.
Previously he taught African Studies as well as communication studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
He worked as a political researcher for the Institute for Democracy in South Africa.
Tony Karon is a Time magazine senior editor.
Austin Merrill is author of Vanity Fair's Fair Play blog.
Binyavanga Wainaina is a Kenyan author, journalist and winner of the Caine Prize.