Dr. Antonio Sotomayor, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, University Library

Librarian for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Affiliated Faculty Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Assistant Professor, Department of Recreation, Sport, and Tourism

337A Main Library

University of Illinois

1408 West Gregory Drive

Urbana, IL  61801



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Professor Sotomayor's most recent projects include a couple of articles that explore the politics of populism through sport programs in mid-twentieth century Puerto Rico. His forthcoming book entitled "The Sovereign Colony: Olympic Sport, National Identity, and International Politics in Puerto Rico" is under contract with the University of Nebraska Press to be published in early 2016 and explores the political process of Puerto Rico’s entry into the Olympic movement, a story immersed in local and international politics. Olympic participation for Puerto Ricans became the ideal scenario to perform growing notions of national identity, and a platform to engage in international diplomacy. The Puerto Rican case offers a model to understand how colonial (or politically subordinated) territories use international sport to foster cultural nationalism and engage politically with other countries.

Professor Sotomayor's work appears in journals such as Journal of Sport History and Caribbean Studies, and analyze the politics behind mid twentieth century sport and recreational programs in Puerto Rico, and how these aided the local government in its hegemonic aspirations, given popular claims for sport development. Currently, he is working on a comparative study of Jamaica and Puerto Rico's Olympic movement from 1930 to the 1950s, particularly in fostering Pan Americanism. By systematically comparing the participation of these two colonies at regional Games (Central American and Caribbean, and Pan American) we can have a better understanding of the power of international sport for regional diplomacy, cultural nationalism, and decolonization. Another project studies the role that the Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) played in the politics of United States expansion in Latin America and the Caribbean, in order to establish patterns of intersection between sport, imperialism, and religion. The YMCA, as a missionary institution, formally allied itself with the U.S. Army and Navy forces during the Spanish American War of 1898 to accompany invading forces into Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. This alliance gave YMCA missionaries the opportunity provide religious and moral support to the troops in the frontlines, in addition to opening the doors for proselytizing in these Catholic countries. Through their focus on “muscular Christianity,” the YMCA believed that a strong body would provide stronger Christian soldiers and missionaries, in turn creating a stronger faith. In this process, they modeled and helped create modern institutions of sport, which in turn provided another cultural tool to develop local identities.

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