The Global Mobility of Highly Skilled African Athletes: Gender, Identity and Politics
Posted: 12 Apr 2013 Last revised: 8 May 2013
Date Written: April 12, 2013
The roundtable’s central theme is Sports in Africa, with a focus on the migration of African athletes. Our objective is to explore the diversity and the complexity of this theme through various analytical and academic frameworks. Featuring scholars from different disciplines, the roundtable will explore topics such as gender, history, media, identity, politics, and socio-economy through the prism of athletic migration. Furthermore, the roundtable will discuss the challenges and opportunities of the “muscle drain” and its effects on a rapidly transforming Africa.
European colonization brought “modern” sports to Africa, primarily through schools and missions. Colonial authorities very early recruited the most talented young athletes to perform in Europe for metropolitan clubs and national teams. In the ensuing decades, on into the post-colonial era, African athletes have been part of an athletic elite in France, Portugal, England, and Belgium.
The migration of African athletic talent has persevered through the series of political transformations in Africa, from colonization through independence and political democratization. African athletes’ mobility has also diversified from simply Africa-to-Europe routes, and now includes intra-African paths, as well as outward movement to both North American and Asian destinations. Dominated by football (soccer) players, the transnational mobility of highly-skilled athletes provides a unique and promising point of entry into a broader discussion of sport, migration(s) and society in contemporary Africa.
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