Dr. Brenda Elsey studies the history of popular culture and politics in twentieth century Latin America, in addition to gender, social theory, sports and Pan-Americanism.
She co-edited the 2017 volume "Football and the Boundaries of History" and is the author of the forthcoming "Futbolera: Women and Sport in Latin America."
She is a senior editor for Oxford University Press’ Research Essays in Latin American History: Southern Cone and recently edited a Radical History Review issue at Duke University Press, entitled “Historicizing the Politics and Pleasure of Sport” with Peter Alegi and Amy Chazkel. She is currently working on a monograph Futbolera: Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Latin American Sport.
Elsey’s previous publications include a monograph, Citizens and Sportsmen: Fútbol and Politics in Twentieth Century Chile (University of Texas, 2011), and various articles, including, "Breaking the Machine: The Politics of South American Football," in Global Latin America (University of California Press, 2016), "Bad Ambassadors: A History of the Pan-American Games of the 1950s," International Journal of Sport History, forthcoming, “As the World is My Witness:’ Popular Culture and the Chilean Solidarity Movement, 1974-1987,” in Topographies of Transnationalism (University of Wisconsin Press, 2013) She has several articles forthcoming, including “Sport, Gender, and Politics in Latin America,” in Oxford University’s Sport in History(2014),and “Football at the “end” of the World: the 1962 World Cup in Chile,” in Kay Schiller and Stefan Rinke’s Histories of the World Cup (Göttingen, Wallstein, 2014).
In 2012 Elsey won the Stessin Prize for best faculty publication at Hofstra University. She has been the co-director of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program at Hofstra since 2008 and directed the Women’s Studies program from 2009 to 2013. She is currently on the chairperson of the Advisory Board for Hofstra’s Center for Civic Engagement. She has written on sport and social justice for popular publications including The New Republic, The Allrounder, and Sport's Illustrated. She tweets, occasionally, but sincerely @politicultura.
Industry Expertise (3)
Areas of Expertise (4)
Fulbright Grant (professional)
Dr. Elsey was awarded a Fulbright in the spring of 2017 for her research on the history of gender, sexuality, and sport in Latin America. She will continue her studies In Argentina where she will focus on the history of women’s soccer, from the 1930s until present. Professor Elsey will teach a course at the National University of La Plata (UNLP) on the social history of sport in the Americas and work with history, journalism, and physical education students.
Stessin Prize for Best Faculty Publication (professional)
Awarded by Hofstra University
SUNY Stony Brook University: Ph.D. 2007
SUNY Stony Brook University: M.A. 2001
Michigan State University: B.A. 1997
- Fluent in Spanish
Media Appearances (7)
Prof Brenda Elsey Explains the Cultural Phenomenon of Soccer
De Cabeza print
Dr. Brenda Elsey, associate professor of history, was interviewed by De Cabeza sports magazine for her research on soccer, gender, and politics and her book, Citizens and Sportsmen: Football and Politics in Twentieth Century Chile (2011).
South American women’s soccer still fighting for respect
“If we look back, the pattern in the 20th century is that the more connected and central soccer is to the national identity of Latin American countries, the more difficult it is for women to find a place there,” says Brenda Elsey, associate professor of history, popular culture and politics in 20th century Latin America at Hofstra University. Elsey, who has written on sport and social justice for the New Republic and Sports Illustrated, is currently working on a book entitled Futbolera: Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Latin American Sport. “So it happens at club level that men see the football club in the beginning of the 20th century as an escape from domestic labor, as a way to construct different kinds of masculinity. And so women have always had to struggle for the right to leisure time and the right to recreational resources in the 20th century. This is part of machismo.”...
Despite gulf in support compared to men, Brazil women's team eyes glory
The 2014 World Cup embittered many of Brazil’s ardent soccer fans. Even rabid football supporters found squandered public expenditures and displacement of poor residents unjustifiable, and recent charges against the head of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), José Maria Marin, confirmed long-standing suspicions of deep corruption of the CBF. Unused stadiums now serve as painful reminders of squandered fortunes as the nation faces its largest political crisis since democratization, combining slow economic growth and financial scandals between the Workers’ Party and the national oil company Petrobras...
Marimachos*: On Women’s Football in Latin America
Football Scholars online
Not to complain, but it’s not easy to be a feminist and a scholar of sports. On the one hand, many researchers are hostile to feminist scholarship. On the other hand, many feminist scholars express disgust at the mere mention of studying sport, seeing it as an overdetermined site of sexism. Even scholars who have embraced the study of masculinity and recognize the importance of gender often neglect to discuss how it shapes women’s lives. In practice, this has meant that men remain the protagonists of history...
How a Feminist Uprising Is Saving South American Soccer
The Nation online
Associate Professor of History Brenda Elsey was interviewed by The Nation for an article and podcast, “How a Feminist Uprising Is Saving South American Soccer.” She discusses how women soccer players in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina have used collective organizing to reclaim their soccer federations from near oblivion.
Professor Elsey, who is also co-director for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, is currently in Argentina on a Fulbright grant where her research is focusing on the history of women’s soccer, from the 1930s until present. She is teaching a course at the National University of La Plata (UNLP) on the social history of sport in the Americas and work with history, journalism, and physical education students.
From the ashes: South American women rise again for the Copa América Femenina
The Guardian online
Following shabby treatment by national federations, determination and solidarity among the players in Brazil, Chile and Argentina are rescuing women’s football from oblivion.
In Soccer-Mad Argentina, Women Fight Sexism and Inequality
Associated Press online
The Associated Press interviewed Brenda Elsey, Associate Professor of History, for an article about Argentinian female athletes fighting inequality and sexism in soccer.
The article, which appeared in The New York Times, explains how one athlete, Macarena Sanchez, is taking legal action against the Argentine soccer association. Because they haven’t been granted professional status, female athletes are unable to earn a living wage playing the sport.
Professor Elsey is the co-author of the forthcoming Futbolera: A History of Women and Sports in Latin America with Joshua Nadel. The book traces the evolution of women’s participation in sports in Latin America, from physical education to amateur clubs to the creation of national teams.
Professor Elsey, who is also co-director of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, was the recipient of a Fulbright grant that gave her the opportunity to teach and conduct research in Argentina, focusing on the history of women’s soccer, from the 1930s until present
“There is no possibility, no matter how good a woman is in Argentina today, to make a living from it,” says Dr. Elsey in the article.
The Brazilian ban on women’s soccer, implemented in 1941 and lifted completely in 1981, represents one of the few examples of official prohibition of women’s sport in the twentieth century. Today, Brazilian journalists and soccer fans do not place importance on the legal prohibition of women’s soccer, assuming that it affected very few women or attracted little notice. However, recent research suggests that the ban was a reaction to the rapid diffusion of women’s soccer in the 1930s. This presentation explores the long-term significance of the ban on gender relations and women’s lives. It also examines the role of racial and class hierarchies in shaping women’s opportunities in Brazilian sport during the mid-twentieth century.
This paper examines the history of the early Pan-American Games, held in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and Chicago. The history of the Pan-American Games demonstrates the decline of goodwill between the US and Latin American sports organizations, audiences, and journalists during the Cold War. Despite the diplomatic failures of the Pan-American Games from a US-centred perspective, they are vital to understand the history of women’s participation in sport and solidarity among Latin American delegations.
University courses on sport and society have increased exponentially over the past decade, motored by student interest and the acceptance of cultural studies in the academy. This online forum, organized and coordinated by Peter Alegi, took place in the summer of 2015. Four historians and a political scientist discussed how their historical research on sport influences their teaching and helps students better understand the relationships between sport and politics. After answering three rounds of questions, respondents had the opportunity to read everyone's answers and edit their own responses.
In the 1950s, amateur sports clubs in Santiago, Chile created a magnetic icon of the popular barrio or neighborhood football player. This figure became a charismatic symbol of working-class ingenuity and class injustice. It represented an alternative construction of masculinity based on one's physical labor, creativity, and political militancy. Popular neighborhood clubs integrated working-class men into urban politics, connected them to parties, and served as sites of political critique. This article argues that barrio football clubs contributed to radicalization in working-class neighborhoods, key to the growth of leftist parties on a national level. It begins with an analysis of San Miguel, a center of barrio football, and then moves to examine the relationship between amateur and professional clubs. Professionals, led by corporate executives with strong connections to the state, sought to de-politicize and de-localize football to create a profitable business. Shaped by Cold War rhetoric, battle lines had been drawn between those who embraced professionalism as part of economic modernization and progress and the amateur footballers who criticized its materialism and corruption. Moreover, practices surrounding women's participation, use of state resources, and the proper place of political expression created lasting divisions.