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Accepted Paper:

Mobility as continuous process: transnational perspectives on agency and sports labour migration from Nigeria to Europe  
Mari Engh (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Paper short abstract:

I will draw on empirical material from a study of Nigerian women’s football migration, to pose the argument that sports labour migration might is best understood through a focus on migrant agency, and the processes through which mobility is produced, re-produced and maintained.

Paper long abstract:

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, as well as the role that migrants themselves play in producing and maintaining mobility. I argue for the need for analytical approaches to (sports) labour migration that do not rely on linear models with narrow definitions of success. For instance, what happens to our analyses when we presume that labour migrants do not have stable and fixed aspirations regarding their professional and migratory careers? I present an analysis that is attuned to the diversity of aspirations among sports labour migrants, as well as to the changing desires and circumstances in a particular migrant's career. I suggest that sports labour migration might be better analysed through paying attention the processes though which mobility is produced, re-produced and maintained. In this, migrants are not inanimate objects or commodites that are moved by external forces alone. Rather, their performances, and the work they put into finding and sustaining employment is crucial in maintaining mobilities. This work, however, happens within particular contexts, and is shaped by local and transnational ideas about race, class, gender and physical capacities. Hence, it is not just the desires and efforts of migrants that affect their opportunities for transnational mobility, but also ideas, in the Global North, about the identities, bodies, capacities, and dreams of labour migrants from the Postcolonial South.

Panel P008
Transnational sport migrants and human futures
  Session 1