Dalia Gebrial responds to a history of women's movements to ask how a transnational feminist politics of solidarity can change and embolden our vision of the world.
The question of transnational solidarity has progressively faded away from the realm of feminist conversation. The idea of intersectionality – a powerful descriptor of how seemingly circumscribed systems of oppression operate through and alongside one other – has been reduced to representative diversity politics: a coalition of limited but energy-consuming practices of privilege-checking and callouts; a seemingly immovable emphasis on bodies and checklists as the prime marker of Good Praxis. Solidarity has been supplanted in favour of ‘allyship’ and ‘standing aside’. Creating spaces of self-determination has been neutralised into creating spaces of safety. Only the personal can be political.
Rani of Jhansi Women's Regiment of the Indian National Army, training, early–mid 1940s. via End of Empire.
Jules Boykoff, in Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics, surveys the Olympic Games of the Cold War era following the Soviet Union's return to the IOC at the 1952 Helsinki Games. As the meaning and structure of Olympic competition became increasingly distorted around First–Second World antagonism, an alternative emerged with the 1963 Games of the New Emerging Forces (GANEFO), held in Indonesia and launched by President Sukarno.
"But, like the alternative Games that preceded it," Boykoff concludes,
this “new sports grouping” didn’t last long. Organizers planned GANEFO II to take place in Cairo in 1967, but the financial burden of staging the competition, along with Sukarno’s overthrow by Suharto in 1966, sapped the energy from the movement. GANEFO II was never to be. But the Games of the New Emerging Forces demonstrated that the Olympics — and sport more generally — are eminently political. Alternative models for organizing sport along political lines were indeed possible.
Historian and sports scholar Russell Field is working on a book-length history of GANEFO and recently contributed an article on the 1963 games to Sport, Protest and Globalisation: Stopping Play, edited by Jon Dart and Stephen Wagg. In the original piece below, Field considers GANEFO as a lens through which to understand sport and politics in the era of the Cold War and the Non-Aligned Movement and as a reference point for contemporary debates.
“We’re observing a dangerous relapse into the interference of politics in sport… to make sport an instrument of geopolitical pressure and the formation of a negative image of countries and peoples. The Olympic movement, which plays a colossal unifying role for humanity, could again wind up on the edge of schism.”
“This politically inspired, politically organized, and politically directed enterprise is the antithesis of sport and should be avoided by all sportsmen … [It] might split the world of international sport asunder.”