Mari H. Engh

 Mari H. Engh

Mobility as process: agency, gender, and race in African sports labour migration

In this presentation I will draw on empirical material from a case study of the migrations of Nigerian women footballers, to pose arguments about how to approach athletic migrations from the Postcolonial South to the Global North, and the role that migrants themselves play in the production and maintenance of sport migrations. The presentation argues for the need for analytical approaches to sports labour migration that do not rely on linear models with narrow definitions of success and desirable destinations. What happens to analyses of sport labour mobilities if we start from the recognition that migrants do not have stable and fixed aspirations regarding their professional and migratory careers? In this presentation I will suggest that sports labour migration might be better analysed through by attention to the processes through which mobility is produced, re-produced and sustained. In this, migrants are not inanimate objects or commodities that are moved by external forces alone. Rather, their performances, and the work they put into sustaining employment is crucial in producing particular trajectories and maintaining migratory careers. This work, however, happens within particular contexts, and is shaped by local and transnational regimes of gender, race and class. Hence, it is not just the desires and efforts of migrants that affect their for transnational careers, but also regimes and ideas, in the Global North, about the bodies, talents, and dreams of labour migrants from the Postcolonial South.

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