Todd Cleveland

Todd Cleveland

Todd Cleveland’s research and publications have analyzed diamond mining and the transnational sports history of soccer in Lusophone Africa and Portugal. Some of his past research has also ingenerated publications that explore African National Congress activity in post-independence Angola, the archival research process in Portugal, the introduction of industrial education into colonial Angola, the role of soccer in engendering Angolan nationalism and the methodological implications of conducting research in contemporary Angola.

“Dr. Cleveland is already a widely published scholar of African history, working comfortably in Portuguese and English language sources in east Africa,” said Kathryn Sloan, chair of the department. “We are happy to welcome him to Fulbright College.”

Cleveland has a passionate interest in European and Portuguese soccer. He fell in love with the sport while living on the north side of London where he got caught up in the energy and spirit of the fans.

Cleveland holds a Bachelor of Arts (with honors) and a Master of Arts in history from the University of New Hampshire. He earned a doctorate in African history from the University of Minnesota.

Disrupting social hierarchies: football, the media and fans’ rivalries in the Zambian


When Zambia gained independence from Britain in 1964, football had already established itself as a popular form of urban culture. Fans flocked to football stadiums to cheer their favorite clubs in the National Football League. On Monday mornings, relatively affluent supporters rushed to buy newspapers that were known to provide adequate reviews of the weekend matches, often sharing their copies with those who could not afford to meet the price of a daily. Radio provided an even wider audience than newspapers because of its accessibility particularly to working-class township dwellers. Prolific soccer commentator Dennis Liwewe who was a central figure in radio football broadcasting in Zambia provided play-by-play commentaries that carried listeners with him to visualize what was happening in far away stadiums, bringing enjoyment to their lives and creating a community of football fans.

This growing popularity of football in postcolonial Zambia led to the emergence of soccer fans’ clubs in urban areas from the 1970s and rivalries between the clubs based on the social geography of the teams. While the fans’ clubs created an opportunity for the petit bourgeois class that was emerging on the industrial Copperbelt and in Lusaka the capital to enjoy their leisure time, network, and reinforce their social position in casual and relaxed settings, they also provided an opportunity for the township dwellers to challenge their subordinate socio-economic position vis-à-vis their privileged neighbors. Using archival and oral sources, this paper examines the role of print (newspapers) and broadcast (radio) media in the popularization of football in Zambia and the emergence of vibrant football fans’ clubs. The study demonstrates how the football environment, which developed in postcolonial Zambia, created some form of equality that provided some power to the poor and marginalized classes to temporarily upset the existing social order during matches.

Workshop: Teaching African Sports Workshop

A small, but growing, group of scholars has been struggling, though increasingly successfully, for some time to legitimize the study of sports in the academy. Yet, even if research on sports-related topics has gained traction in the academy and publishers have been increasingly receptive, introducing this work into the classroom remains a significant challenge. Indeed, although numerous scholars currently conduct research on an array of sports topics, there are far fewer who offer sports-themed classes at their respective institutions. And even fewer that focus on Africa. Although there exist a growing number of sports-themed classes that include Africa, including all manner of “World Football” courses, these typically offer minimal or peripheral coverage of Africa. Towards more fully incorporating African sports in the classroom, the organizers of the upcoming “Sports Africa” conference, to be held April 10-13 at the University of the Free State, in Bloemfontein, South Africa, have organized a workshop that aims to explore the various ways that sports in Africa are employed in the classroom – either as standalone classes or as part of broader, more topically-varied courses – the pedagogical strategies and approaches that instructors are employing, and challenges to further incorporation. As an outgrowth of these efforts, the workshop also seeks to examine how we can engage our students in meaningful research endeavors on topics related to sports in Africa. The workshop will provide a forum in which scholars who are actively teaching African Sports in the classroom can exchange ideas, approaches, and experiences. To maximize this session, participants will be encouraged to pre-circulate relevant syllabi as well as (brief) pedagogical essays based on their experiences, with the workshop providing an opportunity for fruitful, face-to-face exchange flowing out of these pieces, with the ultimate aim of growing the presence of African Sports in the classroom.

Please contact Todd Cleveland,at: for questions and inquiries.

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