Without You I’m Nothing

I’m in the midst of writing midterm papers and marking assignments, which is going to put a serious crimp in blogging time. Right now I need to get a quick note down that may work into yet another idea for me.

My seminar today was talking about the meaning of place and the the ideas of different geographers and philosophers. I was thinking while we were discussing Bachelard that his idea of place meant created an interior and exterior, in order to understand home and place, you had to be able to differentiate it from something outside. So what if I were to extend this to my subject.

I was thinking about supporters groups and the intense rivalries they create with select other groups. At their base they are all football supporters (thinking English case here, so its football). They differentiate themselves by which team they support and how much they support them. Having created an identity for themselves they are now free to have a rivalry with another team’s supporters. They’ll contest space and identity with these others who often come from the same town as them and in another context could be friends. These manufactured rivalries depend on the ‘other’. Without someone to fight what is the point of the supporter’s identity existing? So these two supporters groups have created a situation mutually sustained hostility. They effectively need each other to survive, as threatening and awful they are to each other, deep down they need that other to validate their own behaviour. Kind of twisted.

Each imagined or real slight informs the long dance that the two group play out with each other. I’m thinking about the Liverpool – Man U match a couple of weeks ago after the release of the Hillsborough papers. The Man U supporters mock the Liverpudlians with songs about murderers (1985 Heysel and 1989 Hillsborough) while the Liverpool fans act out airplane wings for the Mancunians (1958 Munich Air disaster). The memories are collective and help to sustain the animosity between groups.

Is there some grudging respect or acknowledgement of what they mean to each other? Could be fun to find out.

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