C.L.R. James’ Beyond a Boundary (CFP)

50th Anniversary Conference
University of Glasgow

May 10-11, 2013 (Abstracts due by October 31, 2012)

Regularly cited as one of the great sports books of the twentieth
century, C.L.R. James’ Beyond a Boundary (1963) is, by his own
famous definition, about far more than cricket. Developing a concern to
understand sport as part of a much wider social and political context (a
concern first articulated in his earlier writings for the Glasgow Herald),
James’ study is part-autobiography, part-historical study and partpolitical-
call-to-arms written against the backdrop of the decolonisation
struggles. His reflections thus reach out into a critical account of racism
and imperialism, into wider questions of aesthetics and popular culture,
and into the struggle for revolutionary social change which was the
enduring concern of his life. Crucially, James insisted that such
questions were not simply of concern to academics or to experts, but
were also a central part of what drew ordinary men and women to

Much loved, and widely read, James’ study has also been the subject of
searching criticism: he has been accused, among other things, of a
failure of critical judgement in relation to cricket’s role in the moral
framework of empire, of a lack of attentiveness to gendered
inequalities, and of a naïve faith in the spontaneity of popular political

This conference is convened on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of
the publication of Beyond a Boundary, with the intention of both
celebrating and questioning, drawing out the book’s intellectual
legacies and identifying the issues it leaves unanswered. We would
welcome original papers dealing with any aspects of Beyond a
Boundary. These might include:

  • critical engagement with or reinterpretation of James’ arguments
  • studies of the production and reception of the book itself
  • interpretations, via James, of contemporary sport
  • reflections on the transnational responses to James’ text
  • discussion of Beyond a Boundary within James’ wider corpus and in relation to his political practice
  • papers reporting on the use of James’ insights and methods in social research, in teaching, in journalism or in political activism.

Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be sent to Andy Smith:
andrew.smith.2@glasgow.ac.uk by October 31, 2012.

In keeping with James’ own practice, we would ask potential speakers to avoid unnecessary technical jargon,
and to prepare papers intended for a general audience.

Already confirmed keynote speakers for the conference are Mike
Brearley (former England Test captain and previously President of the
British Psychoanalytic Society), and Wai Chee Dimock (Department
of English, Yale) and Robert A. Hill (History, UCLA and C.L.R.
James’ Literary Executor).