Mari Haugaa Engh has a background in Gender Studies from the University of Cape Town, and is currently a PhD student at the Department of Public Health at Aarhus University in Denmark. Her PhD project is concerned with the transnational migration of African women footballers into Scandinavia, and forms part of a Nordic research project on internationalisation and professionalization in women's football. She has previously undertaken research concerning gender and sexuality in women's football in South Africa.
Constructions of Africa: power and resistance in the migration of Nigerian female footballers into Scandinavia.
In recent years, migration into Scandinavian women’s football has increased substantially, and migrants from a variety of different countries are currently employed in Norwegian, Danish, and particularly Swedish, clubs. Previous research has shown that friends-of-friends networks as well as agents and other intermediaries are central in these recruitment and migration processes. Research has also shown that as migrants build knowledge and networks in different localities across the world, they are active agents in the construction and maintenance of transnational recruitment and referral networks. Little attention however, has been paid to exploring how culturally constructed ideas of ‘suitable and desirable’ migrants affect clubs’ choices concerning which countries and regions to recruit from. The aim of this paper is to examine how clubs and migrants construct classed, raced and gendered images of African female football migrants that function both to enable and inhibit women’s football migration out of Africa and into Scandinavia. In this, the paper will explore when and how clubs and Nigerian migrants’ ideas about what constitutes a ‘desirable’ and ‘African’ female football player converge, and when they do not. Through this, the author aims to explore how cultural, racial and gendered stereotypes are produced and maintained, but also when and how resistance to these are articulated