Sean Jacobs

Sean Jacobs

Sean Jacobs is Associate Professor of International Affairs at The New School in New York City and Aubrey Bloomfield, recent graduate of the same program. Aubrey is originally from New Zealand and Sean from South Africa. Sean founded and edits Africa is a Country. They both write and research on sports and politics.

Football, Politics, and National Identity in South Africa: The 1996 African Cup of Nations


Through a series of interviews with football journalists and relying on primary and secondary sources (film, newspapers, etcetera), this paper explores the historical significance of the 1996 African Cup of Nations. The paper considers a range of factors in addition to the actual competition itself and the team including the history of football in South Africa, the issues with the narrative of nation building and reconciliation that accompanied the 1995 Rugby World Cup,
the nature of South Africa’s transition from apartheid, the politics around the 1996 tournament, and South Africa’s relationship with the rest of the continent. The paper concludes that the story of Bafana Bafana’s 1996 triumph can be read alongside that of the new South Africa as a whole, from the initial successes and optimism of the 1990s to the ongoing challenges that remain. The paper adds to the growing field of academic sports history in South Africa, pioneered by scholars such as Alegi, Bolsmann, Odendaal, etcetera.

The paper was cowritten by Sean Jacobs (Associate Professor, The New School) and Aubrey Bloomfield (Graduate Student, The New School). Jacobs will deliver the paper.

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