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Title:Anti-black racism and the foreign black other: constructing blackness and the sporting migrant
Author(s):Mwaniki, Munene
Director of Research:Kelley, Margaret
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kelley, Margaret
Doctoral Committee Member(s):McDermott, Monica; Liao, Tim; Jung, Moon-Kie
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Anti-black racism
Abstract:The popularity and globalization of sport has led to an ever-increasing black athletic labor migration from the global South to, primarily, the U.S. and Western European countries. While the hegemonic ideology surrounding sport is that it brings different people together and ameliorates social boundaries, sociologists of sport have shown this to be a gross simplification. Instead, sport is often seen to reinforce and recreate social stereotypes and boundaries, especially as it regards race and the black athlete in body and culture. At best we can think of sport as a contested terrain for both maintaining and challenging racial norms and boundaries. The mediated black athlete has thus always, for better or worse, impacted popular white perceptions of blackness broadly and globally. While much work has been done to expose the workings of race and racism in sport, studies have tended to homogenize black populations and have not taken into account the varying histories and complexities of, specifically, black African migrant athletes. In my work here I take ten black African (im)migrant athletes as a conceptual starting point in order to analyze and interrogate discursive representations of blackness, anti-black racism and global white supremacy, in a transnational manner. The athletes examined in my research here are Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, Didier Drogba, Mario Balotelli, Tegla Loroupe, Christian Okoye, Mwadi Mabika, Catherine Ndereba, Tirunesh Dibaba, and Tamba Hali. As athletic celebrities competing in the West, these athletes are wrapped in social and cultural meanings by predominantly white owned and dominated media organizations with histories of white supremacist discourse. Using an approach grounded in discourse analysis and cultural studies, I analyze the various power relations, via media texts, surrounding the athletes above as it regards race, gender, sexuality, class, and nationality. My aim throughout is to better understand which discourses are privileged and which are marginalized in the representations of black African migrant athletes. Additionally, with more recent black African immigration often conceived as a 'new' African diaspora, I engage with diasporic studies in order to theorize how the representations of black African athletes may impact the possibilities for diasporic communication, identity, and politics. Whereas previous African diaspora studies have tended to focus on the experiences and importance of African Americans, especially in sport, I argue that black African athletes in the U.S. and Europe are now equally significant to those recent immigrant communities in the West, not to mention their home countries. Black African migrant athletes, as highly visible actors, are potential points around which black immigrants can create or maintain a positive identity as 'Black' and/or 'African'. To do this, I focus on the inconsistencies, slippages or 'cracks', in the hegemonic media discourse and elsewhere where we can see the importance of these athletes to black immigrants which is otherwise hidden or made invisible. In a context that has seen black immigrant communities face recent increases in racial discrimination and violence, uncovering the cultural resources that help these communities struggle against white supremacy is important. Hence, in this interdisciplinary study I engage with various academic areas and theories in order to gain better insight into the workings and politics of anti-black racism, immigration, and diaspora in globalized sport.
Issue Date:2015-01-21
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Munene Mwaniki
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-01-21
Date Deposited:2014-12

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