Thoughts on Ajax, Amsterdam’s non-Jewish Jewish team

The Ajax club’s second identity as Jewish is, in a word, problematic, and in another appropriation.  The majority of players and fans are not Jewish yet not an eye is batted at the fact that they are taking the atrocity committed to a culture that is not their’s as their own brand.  I guess it could be argued that they are celebrating the Jewish people, but in a post WWII Europe I think that would be a stretch.  Perhaps they feel comfortable with it as they see themselves as innocent bystanders, taken over by the evil Germans.   Appropriation is such a hot topic in the world today, that no one has taken a second look at this tradition.  Is there a sense of apathy towards this “tradition” in the games, or am I just too offended by this offense towards a culture that is not mine?

Reading Soccer Song of the Netherlands I was uncomfortable just reading about what the Feyenoord fans (and sometimes players) would yell at the Ajax club, reinforcing the victim brand by taking on the identity of the Nazi’s or at least their supporters.  How is this ever okay? How, in their minds, can they legitimize these actions?  But then again in the blog post where I got my image there were quotes and statements that the Ajax club will be taking actions to stop the perpetrators of the offensive chants, while I am in full support of this because the popularity of the chants only lets the casual anti-semitism permeate further into culture, I do not think it will be possible and that’s what I find most alarming.


Winner’s book was a perfect example of how the methods we’ve looked at in class don’t have to be applied to visual culture.  When we talked about this class it was brought up that the main focus would be, how to look at things. Well it’s easy to start off with things that are visual and demand your eye, painting, architecture, museums etc. but other things like soccer culture (beyond the matches themselves) are perhaps a little harder to look at as it’s not a distinct object but a larger set of ideas.  Winner used comparisons to flesh out his thoughts in this slightly more abstract subject, which is a great way to deal with things and make them more approachable.  It helps that his comparison to chess is pictorial and informative, a perfect combo.  This is something we can take from his book, besides the interesting and relevant information, and apply to our essays this week and our trip/class in general.


One thought on “Thoughts on Ajax, Amsterdam’s non-Jewish Jewish team

  1. Really nice reflection here on the specifics from Kuper. What do you think of his explanation? Where do you think he is on it? He’s clearly critical of it, yet also seeks to understand, from a journalistic stance, the perspectives of those fans, right? Does he get closer to that view than, say, Raboteau w/ those Zwarte Piet cos-players?

    Does Kuper’s account of this appropriation change the way you see any of the other materials from this week? or even from past weeks? Does he change your “way of looking” at any of the rest of it? How does he do that, if so? What are his methods?


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