Insurgent Fandom: Ultras, Atmosphere and Affective Governance at FC Union Berlin
Dr. Max Jack
7. Juni 2023, 10.00 Uhr, Reiterkaserne, Raum 150
Insurgent Fandom investigates a youth subculture you’ve never heard of called ultra. The most dedicated soccer fans who sing, wave flags and light marine flares to support their respective teams on the field, ultras also critique the capitalistic tendencies of professional sport and question the legitimacy of the authorities who make the rules. In spite of public misperceptions of ultras as hooligans, I argue that ultras' performative style of support in the stadium is in part a form of protest informed by their constant friction with the state, the mainstream media, and the commercial priorities of sports’ governing bodies. Because of this conflict with authority, fandom for ultras takes on a collective social life in which the game on the field often becomes a secondary concern. With political implications extending past the realm of sports, ultras have even become key actors in some of the most significant mass protests of the 21st Century—including those in Cairo (2011), Istanbul (2013), and Kiev (2013). Embracing a politic of dissent at the heart of crowd action, Insurgent Fandom casts a light upon the apparatuses of governance that aim to mitigate the potentially inflammatory dispositions of the hardcore fans while examining stadia as a breeding ground for alternative social and political possibilities.
Dr. Max Jack
Max Jack acquired his PhD in Ethnomusicology from UC Santa Barbara in 2019. Currently residing in Germany, he is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development at the Center for the History of Emotions in Berlin. As an ethnomusicologist of sound, affect and social movements, he researches crowds as dynamic social and political actors in public space and their fraught relationship with liberal democratic governments. Previously funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), he conducted three years of field research in Ireland and Germany on hardcore football fans called ultras and their cultivation of atmosphere in the arena as an estranged form of public address and political commentary. His book on this subject, titled Insurgent Fandom, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press. Prior to his current post, Jack was a Visiting Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and a Visiting Lecturer in Ethnomusicology at the University of Cologne.