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Accepted Paper:

Ambiguous precarity in sports labour migration. the case of African male and female footballers  
Christian Ungruhe (University of Passau) Sine Agergaard (Aarhus University, DK)

Paper short abstract:

Engaging with transnational African football migration, this paper proposes the concept of ambiguous precarity as an approach to combine perspectives of structure and agency in problematic fields of labour. Doing so, it also contributes to debates on the meaning of work in anthropology beyond sport.

Paper long abstract:

Transnational migrants are often considered to be the core of the new global precariat (e.g. due to the outsourcing of underpaid and risky forms of labour to migrant workers and the attribution of precarious citizenship status to them). However, accounts of labor migrants bring to the fore that precarity is not exclusively based on poverty, marginality, misery and exploitation but that it also consists of ambiguous conditions and perceptions. Referring to Standing's concept of precariatization (2011), this paper aims to scrutinize the ambiguity of precarity in labour migration as in the case of transnational athletes. Drawing on material from multi-sited field studies among aspiring and current male and female African football players moving to Europe it applies an anthropological perspective of work, migration and precarity. Covering the whole migration process of transnational athletes from imagining, becoming transferred, being recognized and approaching the end of a career as footballers in Europe the range of precariatization processes become apparent when linking the many young people who strive to migrate with the few individuals who are successful. The lens of football migration allows to identify the ambiguities in precarity by identifying both mobility and immobility on a spatial and social level inherent in labour migration processes. By applying the concept of ambiguous precarity and combining perspectives of structure and agency the paper adds on existing research of South-North sport migration as well as it contributes to wider debates on the meaning of work in contexts of migration and precarity in anthropology.

Panel P008
Transnational sport migrants and human futures
  Session 1