When Memory “Sees Signs” and “Plays Games”: An Analysis of Two Sports Shoe Controversies

Lyombe Eko, Natalia Mielczarek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This article explores the interplay of collective memory and semiotics in two sports shoe controversies: The “Nike Air” and Adidas “JS Roundhouse Mids” affairs. It explores how two “memory communities”–Muslims and African Americans–successfully resisted objectionable corporate sports shoe products by playing “memory games.” Muslims accused Nike of inserting the sacred symbol for the word Allah on the heels of its sneakers, while African Americans accused Adidas of affixing shackles, a symbol of slavery, into its sneakers. The Nike controversy showed how Muslim groups used religious signifiers of the past to counter sacrilege in the present, while the Adidas controversy showed how African Americans used the negative memories of the past to resist an objectionable mass-market product in the present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-173
Number of pages14
JournalVisual Communication Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2015


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