337A Main Library
University of Illinois
1408 West Gregory Drive
Urbana, IL 61801
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 book manuscript tentatively 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 the fall of 2015. This book tells the story of how a colony/territory managed to achieve sovereign international Olympic representation, nurturing along the way powerful notions of national identity. It also shows the ways in which mega-sporting events are a good window to observe and study national and international politics and diplomacy.
Currently, Professor Sotomayor is working on a comparative study of Jamaica and Puerto Rico's Olympic movement from 1930 to the 1950s. By systematically comparing the participation of these two colonies at regional and Pan American Games we can have a better understanding of the power of international sport for 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.
Sotomayor, Antonio, "Democracy, Patronage, and Sovereignty in Puerto Rican Olympism, 1950s. Paper to the presented at the XXXII International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, in Chicago, May 2014. Panel Organizer for "Sport, Democracy, and Power in the Spanish Caribbean and Brazil."