November 20, 2012

The Athlete’s Body and the Global Condition: Tongan Rugby Players in Japan

The mobility of rugby professionals from Tonga to Japan and points beyond poses new questions about the role of the body as a mediator between the subjective and the objective, which anthropologists and other social scientists have generally examined within the confines of specific societies. Increasingly, mobility across different regimes of valuation offers highly skilled bodies both new possibilities for agency and new constraints on agency. The articulation of athletes’ mobility with economic, social, and ideological dynamics provides a window onto the underexplored aspects of the global condition from the ground up.

Niko Besnier is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. His most recent book, On the Edge of the Global: Modern Anxieties in a Pacific Island Nation, was published by Stanford University Press in 2011. He is currently in the initial stages of a 5-year multi-sited ethnographic comparative project involving five researchers investigating the migrations of professional athletes from the Global South to the Global North in three sports (rugby, soccer football, and cricket).

Cosponsored with the Department of Sociology and Center for Pacific Island Studies, UHM

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