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The Black Migrant Athlete

Media, Race, and the Diaspora in Sports

Munene Franjo Mwaniki

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 09/2017
Pages: 276
Subject: Sports and Recreation
eBook ISBN: 9781496202840


The popularity and globalization of sport have led to an ever-increasing migration of black athletes from the global South to the United States and Western Europe. While the hegemonic ideology surrounding sport is that it brings diverse people together and ameliorates social divisions, sociologists of sport have shown this to be a gross simplification. Instead, sport and its narratives often reinforce and re-create stereotypes and social boundaries, especially regarding race and the prowess and the position of the black athlete. Because sport is a contested terrain for maintaining and challenging racial norms and boundaries, the black athlete has always impacted popular (white) perceptions of blackness in a global manner.The Black Migrant Athlete analyzes the construction of race in Western societies through a study of the black African migrant athlete. Munene Franjo Mwaniki presents ten black African migrant athletes as a conceptual starting point to interrogate the nuances of white supremacy and of the migrant and immigrant experience with a global perspective. By using celebrity athletes such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, and Catherine Ndereba as entry points into a global discourse, Mwaniki explores how these athletes are wrapped in social and cultural meanings by predominately white-owned and -dominated media organizations. Drawing from discourse analysis and cultural studies, Mwaniki examines the various power relations via media texts regarding race, gender, sexuality, class, and nationality.  


Munene Franjo Mwaniki is an assistant professor of sociology at Western Carolina University.   


"Engaging, timely, and important, The Black Migrant Athlete carves out new ground within discussions of sport and society with its focus on migration, African athletes, and media representations. Truly novel and innovative, this is a must-read."—David J. Leonard, author of Playing While White  

"The Black Migrant Athlete is a fascinating analysis of media representations of African immigrant athletes. . . . Mwaniki expertly shows that [a] contradiction lies at the heart of paternalistic loathing that greets even the most privileged African immigrants to the West."—Monica McDermott, associate professor of sociology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and author of Working Class White: The Making and Unmaking of Race Relations   

"Ground-breaking. . . . An original and timely text that encourages us to think globally, historically, and critically about the myriad situated ways that black migrant athletes are rendered variously similar and Other in the Western imagination."—Daniel Burdsey, deputy head of research in the School of Sport and Service Management at the University of Brighton and author of Race, Place, and the Seaside: Postcards from the Edge ?