The Black Migrant Athlete


The Black Migrant Athlete

Media, Race, and the Diaspora in Sports

Munene Franjo Mwaniki

Sports, Media, and Society Series

270 pages
2 appendixes, index


September 2017


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eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

September 2017


$50.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

September 2017


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About the Book

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.

Author Bio

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


"Using extensive archival news database research, the author examines representations of these athletes in terms of racial and national stereotypes. Mwaniki's particular strength here is in his multilayered analyses. He skillfully examines how the athletes themselves navigate both positive and negative media representations, explores the ways their reactions impact their identity, and finally considers what those representations mean to the larger African and Western communities. Scholars of race, media, and nationalism, among other areas, will find this work to be a valuable contribution to the field."—A. Curtis, Choice

"Mwaniki’s text is an absolute must read: it is groundbreaking, captivating, eye-opening, and truly innovative in its discussions of the representation of the Black African migrant. . . . Whether situated in the United States, the United Kingdom, or any other part of the Western world, I implore scholars to read this book and engage with its dominant messages."—Rory Magrath, American Journal of Sociology

“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 

Table of Contents

Introduction: Black African Immigration to the West
1. Race and Sport: Situating the Black African Athlete
2. Everyday Othering: Boundary Making and Maintenance
3. Model Minorities: Origin Stories, Hard Workers, and Humanitarians
4. “Bad” Blacks: Contingent Acceptance and Essentialized Blackness
5. Immigrant Reception: Nationalism, Identity, Politics, and Resistance
6. The Diasporic Athlete: Blackness and Meaning in the African Diaspora
7. The Sporting Migrant: Antiblack Racism and the Foreign Other
Appendix A: Methodology and Data-Gathering Procedures
Appendix B: Individuals in the Study

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