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Peter Alegi - Michigan State University. East Lansing, MI, US

Peter Alegi Peter Alegi

Professor of African History, Director of Director of Digital History Projects at Matrix | Michigan State University


Professor Peter Alegi's research focuses on the relationship between popular culture and politics, especially football.



Peter Alegi Publication Peter Alegi Publication Peter Alegi Publication Peter Alegi Publication




Professor Peter Alegi is a social historian of late 19th- and 20th-century South Africa. His work focuses on the relationship between popular culture and politics, especially football (soccer). He is the author of Laduma! Soccer, Politics & Society in South Africa and African Soccerscapes: How a Continent Changed the World’s Game, and co-editor (with Chris Bolsmann) of Africa’s World Cup: Critical Reflections on Play, Patriotism, Spectatorship, and Space and South Africa and the Global Game. He has also published articles and chapters in scholarly journals and edited collections. He has co-edited of a special edition of Radical History Review (“Historicizing the Politics and Pleasure of Sports”), and has conducted research for a book on digital African history and another on community beauty pageants in apartheid South Africa.

Industry Expertise (4)

Education/Learning Leisure / Recreation Sport - Professional Sport - Amateur

Areas of Expertise (9)

Popular Culture Politics African History Spectatorship Global Football Digital Scholarship Social Change Qualitative Research Sports

Accomplishments (2)

Fintz Award for Teaching Excellence in the Arts and Humanities (professional)

An MSU award.

ISS Teaching Excellence Award in the Social Sciences (professional)

An MSU award

Education (1)

Boston University: Ph.D., History 2000

News (5)

Midori House

Monocle  radio


Nina Schick and George Brock discuss the day’s top news, author Peter Alegi assesses the differences between South Africa and Brazil’s World Cups, and Mike Flynn reviews some of the latest tunes with a look at the world of jazz.

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Joy is Round

National Geographic  print


The story of soccer in Africa is a long one, says Peter Alegi, author and history professor at Michigan State University. In 1862, a year before the game's international rules were codified in London, matches were played in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth ...

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Q&A: Peter Alegi, America's expert on African soccer

MLS Soccer  print


Peter Alegi, a professor of African history at Michigan State University, opens speaking engagements by giving voice to what everyone in the room is thinking:

“Who is this white guy from the States talking about South African soccer?”

It’s a good question. And Alegi has an answer. In fact, he has more than one. He has a whole book that answers the question. His recently published book, African Soccerscapes: How a Continent Changed the World’s Game, dissects soccer on the African continent, its impact on the sport globally and the sport’s impact on Africa. He is also a regular contributor to the blog FootballIsComingHome.info ...

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The History of Soccer in Africa

NPR  radio


Author and African history professor Peter Alegi talks to Melissa Block about soccer's long history in South Africa. Soccer was brought to Africa by British colonials in the mid-1800s. The first documented game on the continent was played in South Africa in 1862, a year before soccer's official rules were codified. Alegi contends that soccer has been an important sport in Africa for as long as it was played in Europe.

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Episode 10: African Soccerscapes

Africa Past & Present - The Podcast about African History, Culture and Politics  radio


Peter Alegi discusses his book manuscript in process African Soccerscapes: How a Continent Changed the World’s Game (Ohio University Press :Africa in World History Series). Guest host Solomon Getahun and Peter Limb talk with Alegi about football and anti-colonial nationalism in Nigeria, Algeria, and South Africa; the history of migration of African players to Europe; and South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 World Cup.

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Journal Articles (7)

Football and Politics in Africa: A Not-To-Be Missed BBC Radio Documentary Football is Coming Home


“Beyond the Pitch” is a riveting BBC World Service radio documentary that explores the close links between the “beautiful game” of football and the “dirty game” of politics in multiple African countries. Produced by Farayi Mungazi and Penny Dale, the 50-minute feature aired on the eve of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Gabon, which marks the 60th anniversary of the continent’s most prestigious sporting event. The documentary opens with Nigeria’s boycott of AFCON 1996 in South Africa. The last-minute withdrawal of the Super Eagles came in retaliation for President Nelson Mandela’s scathing criticism of Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha’s regime, which in November 1995 had executed author Ken Saro Wiwa and eight more Ogoni environmental activists in a sham trial.

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Teaching Radical History Radical History Review


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.

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Historicizing the Politics and Pleasure of Sport: Editors’ Introduction Radical History Review


The making of global culture owes much to sport. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup, the Olympic Games, and other major sporting events generate huge revenues, fill stadiums, attract billions of viewers, and bring entire nations to a standstill. Athletes like Lionel Messi, Usain Bolt, Virat Kohli, and Serena Williams and teams including Manchester United, Real Madrid, and the New York Yankees have legions of loyal followers on every continent, from cosmopolitan megacities to remote rural villages. The quasi-universal popularity of sports may be a relatively recent development, but its transnational nature is not. The global diffusion of modern sports began with the imperial and commercial expansion of Western Europe and the United States in the late nineteenth century. Agents of that imperialism—missionaries, teachers, traders, and colonial officials— believed sport to be an important part of their civilizing mission among the so called darker nations of the world.1 Military interventions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America fuelled the popularity of Western sports, especially when accompanied by “soft power” cultural programs and private business ventures.

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FIFA, Blatter and Africa: a special relationship The Conversation


On Tuesday, June 2, Sepp Blatter announced his intention to resign as FIFA president just four days after winning reelection to a fifth term — an electoral victory that simply could not have happened without the support of FIFA’s African members.

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Fifa, Blatter and Africa: A special relationship Mail & Guardian


On Tuesday, June 2, Sepp Blatter announced his intention to resign as Fifa president just four days after winning re-election to a fifth term – an electoral victory that simply could not have happened without the support of Fifa’s African members.

According to unofficial calculations, the 133 votes secretly cast for Blatter came from Africa (53), Asia (46), North America (minus the United States) and the Caribbean (34).

Why did Africans unanimously support the leader of a troubled, even loathed, organisation, which two days earlier witnessed the arrest of seven of its executives in Zurich on US bribery and corruption charges?

As an academic who has been researching, publishing and teaching the history and culture of African football for two decades, I want to offer a possible answer to this challenging question.

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Podcasting the Past: Africa Past and Present and (South) African History in the Digital Age South African Historical Journal


The World Wide Web and other computer-based technologies like listservs, reference management tools, databases, blogs, Skype and visual media have transformed the field of history. In 2008, Peter Alegi and Peter Limb, historians of South Africa at Michigan State University, USA, launched Africa Past and Present, a podcast about history, culture, and politics (http://afripod.aodl.org). Drawing on the 54 episodes of the podcast produced through June 2011, this article explores the role of podcasting technology in the production and dissemination of historical knowledge about Africa and South Africa in a global context. It begins with an examination of the technical aspects of podcasting, and then interrogates the relationship between podcasting and Africanist scholarship and teaching in the digital age. The study demonstrates that, if the advantages are maximized and disadvantages minimized, podcasting can be a useful tool with which to democratize knowledge, enrich classroom learning, and significantly broaden opportunities for and access to scholarly publishing and communication, locally and internationally.

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'Feel the Pull in your Soul' : Local Agency and Global Trends in South Africa's 2006 World Cup Bid Soccer & Society


This article analyses South Africa's unsuccessful bid to host the 2006 FIFA World Cup. A discussion of the bid's leading organizers, corporate sponsors, and marketing tactics provides the basis for a critical examination of the policy and philosophy behind the bid campaign. In doing so, the author critiques the World Cup's projected costs and benefits and assesses the tournament's impact on the distribution of wealth in post-apartheid South Africa. This local case study sheds light on football's economic and political centrality in contemporary African societies and identifies South Africa's unusual place in football's world marketplace.

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