David Rowe is a sociologist at the Institute for Culture and Society at the University of Western Sydney, Australia.  He conducts research on media and popular culture, and specializes in music, journalism and sports.  In addition to numerous influential articles, Professor Rowe has authored (or co-authored) five books addressing various aspects of contemporary sport and the media.  This is an essay he published in one of the foremost journals in the field of sports studies, the International Review of the Sociology of Sport.  


Rowe announces on p. 356 that he will be examining Zidane's ejection and its aftermath "as a striking example of the political resonance and reach of mega-media sport, as well as of the perils of being 'lost' and 'found' in popular media translation."  To this end, the essay is divided into five parts: two introductory sections designed to contextualize the argument by making general remarks about 1) sport media (pp. 355-357) and 2) race (pp. 357-8); a concluding section (pp. 365-367), and two longer intepretive sections, the first of which (pp. 358-62) examines Zidane's biography in relation to issues of race in world football and the second of which then examines the role of the media in the affair and in shaping the institutional and cultural responses to it (pp. 362-5).  


The main idea: Rowe investigates how sport mega-media (such as the telecast of a World Cup Final) serves as a vehicle through which are expressed, exhibited and navigated the tensions between globalization (which supposedly entails the free movement or circulation of goods and bodies around the world) and racism, nationalism, and xenophobia (which in different ways can act as barriers to that free circulation).  We know from the article that he considers "racism" "class prejudice, sexism anhomobia" as "negative and malign, signifying practices" (p. 256).  However, you should be careful not to assume that this means (since these attitudes can function as barriers to globalization and he is against these attitudes) that he is pro-globalization.  Rather, you should read him as trying to examine and understand the role that media and sport play as populations around the world try to make sense and meaning out of rapidly shifting circumstances.


Here are some more specific questions that may help you to work your way through each section of what I understand may be (unless you are experienced in reading scholarly publications) somewhat tough going:


  • Introduction: Mediated Lives (pp. 355-57)
    • What is Rowe's assertion regarding "major sport spectacles"?
    • What does Rowe assert is the role of the media in the "globalization process"?
    • How, in Rowe's opinon, does sport work in this context?
    • What are some of the attitudes (positive and benign or negative malign) that Rowe argues sport media foster?
  • A Short Note on Race (pp. 357-8)
    • Why does Rowe put the word "race" within quotation marks?
    • Rowe cites a well-known, highly regarded sociologist named Paul Gilroy: what do you understand to be Gilroy's argument regarding the ways in which categories, terms, and images related to "race" are used in contemporary society?
    • What does Rowe mean by "essentialized conceptions of 'race'"? What does he mean by "exaggeratedly cosmopolitan discourses of hybridity"?
    • What are some example of how racial discourses "mutate," especially in relation to phenomena such as immigration?  
  • 'Racists are no invited': The rise and fall of 'Zizou' (pp. 358-362)
    • What were the key elements of the Zidane story or persona leading up to the 2006 World Cup final?
    • How does Rowe interpret FIFA's anti-racism campaign?
    • What does Rowe mean when he refers to FIFA's "own labour market"? 
    • How did FIFA describe the relationship between the movement of its players, ethnicity and race, and racism?
    • It is in this section that Rowe first begins to describe elements of the Zidane situation as ironic? What do you think he means? What are the ironies?
  • Lip reading and the search for 'hard words' (pp. 362-365)
    • What significance does Rowe give to the fact that numerous media organizations employed lip readers to analyze the replays of the event? And what significance does he give to their conflicting conclusions?
    • If, as was admitted by everyone involved, Matterazzi insulted Zidane's sister, how does Rowe interpret that insult? Why? 
    • What is the role of colonialism, gender, and race in "the meaning" of Matterazzi's insult?
    • And what have researchers (and Rowe) found regarding the role of race in different reactions to and assessments of the headbutt?
  • Conclusion: 'The ideological complexities of the now' (pp. 365-367)
    • To what conclusions does Rowe come?
    • What actions does he describe as imperative for us to undertake?
    • What does this mean to youJ?


Bonus question: what do you make of the phrase "the last temptation of Zinedine Zidane" in the title of the essay?  Here's a hint: it is a metaphorical allusion (an indirect reference) to the title of a novel and of a film based on that novel.  You can take it from there.  You take it from there!





Rowe Stages of the Global.pdf   
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