Workshop – Genderless Sport?
Gendered Sport Africa
Martha Saavedra (Center for African Studies, University of California, Berkeley, USA)
Viewed as a mutable human social construct that can be rendered and disrupted through performance, actively expressed in an embodied experience, or imposed through the actions and perceptions of others, gender is always present, if not on the surface, ready at a moment’s notice to be deployed as needed. With an emphasis on physicality and performance, sport is a key institution for creating and asserting gender norms. Or is it? Within the realm of teaching and research on African sport, it would seem that much of African sport is ‘genderless.’ In other words, when ‘gender’ as an analytical category is present, the assumed focus tends to be mainly on work related to women or girls in sport. Given that the broad realm of African sport is still male-dominated, does this mean that the bulk of the African sporting experience is genderless? As a thought experiment, this transdisciplinary workshop takes up the possibility of ‘genderless’ sport to consider in what ways ‘gender’ has contributed to research and pedagogy about sport in Africa, what more it might offer, and what the limits of its value as an analytical frame might be. To do so requires acknowledging a growing body of work on sport and masculinity, variations in and contestations of gender constructs across space and time in the continent, the interlacing of African sporting experiences with that of the global, and a complicated and varied postcolonial present. Via a semi-structured discussion, the goal of this workshop is to collectively tackle this question of the broad contributions – or not – of ‘gender’ to research and teaching about African sport, and, in the process, identify questions, evidence, methodologies and pedagogies that might be most useful to advancing knowledge within the study of sport across Africa
Michel Sikes (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa)
Marie Biermann (German Sports University, Germany)
Mari Engh (University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)