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The Precarity of Masculinity
Football, Pentecostalism, and Transnational Aspirations in Cameroon
220 pages, 9 illus., bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78920-927-3 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (March 2022)
ISBN 978-1-80539-330-6 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Not Yet Published (June 2024)
eISBN 978-1-80539-441-9 eBook
“[This book] is a welcome addition to the literature on African masculinity, global professional sport, neoliberalism, and Pentecostalism. I find it particularly laudable that the book is concise and relatively short. Its main arguments and analytical observations are well written and empirically saturated.” • JRAI (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute)
“Overall, the book is a very exciting journey into one of the shadiest corners of the global football industry… [It] is an important analytical contribution to the fields of sports science, ethnography, and other disciplines focusing on contemporary postcolonialism, the global economy, and young masculinities. It contains an impressive breadth in its research overview as well as a clarifying depth in its analysis…Kovač’s book is an eye-opener for anyone prepared to see and understand. Football’s systematic exploitation of young men, a kind of trafficking, is going on at this very moment and the question is whether the majority of us wants to keep the current order or try to change it. After reading Kovač’s book, I am doubtful that this system is sustainable in the long run." • idrottsforum.org
“This is an extraordinarily high-quality book, destined to make a mark in Africanist scholarship. Simply by demonstrating the connection between football and Pentecostalism in Cameroon, Kovac’s manuscript takes a step I have never seen before, examining a kind of confluence of two global movements into a local production of masculine subjects.” • Sasha Newell, Université libre de Bruxelles, author of The Modernity Bluff: Crime, Consumption, and Citizenship in Cote D'Ivoire
“Tells the fascinating story of young Cameroonians, who opt for football as a career to bring them global mobility and attain what the author calls ‘moral masculinity' … The story is full of unexpected turns, bringing in a wide array of aspects and actors.” • Peter Geschiere, University of Amsterdam, author of The Perils of Belonging: Autochthony, Citizenship, and Exclusion in Africa and Europe
“This is a richly documented and convincingly theorised ethnographic study … It captures the interconnections and intricacies of global and local hierarchies that produce and shape social realities, as well as individual and collective aspirations under neoliberalism … The history and role of football in the region, articulated around the theme of precarity and the various moral orders that compete in shaping the young men and their expectations of self-fulfilment, are convincingly pursued and well substantiated.” • Francis Nyamnjoh, University of Cape Town
Since the 1990s, an increasing number of young men in Cameroon have aspired to play football as a career and a strategy to migrate abroad. Migration through the sport promises fulfillment of masculine dreams of sports stardom, as well as opportunities to earn a living that have been hollowed out by the country’s long economic stalemate. The aspiring footballers are increasingly turning to Pentecostal Christianity, which allows them to challenge common tropes of young men as stubborn and promiscuous, while also offering a moral and bodily regime that promises success despite the odds. Yet the transnational sports market is tough and unpredictable: it demands disciplined young bodies and introduces new forms of uncertainty. This book unpacks young Cameroonians' football dreams, Pentecostal faith, obligations to provide, and desires to migrate to highlight the precarity of masculinity in structurally adjusted Africa and neoliberal capitalism.
Uroš Kovač is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the “Future Rural Africa” Collaborative Research Centre based at the University of Cologne, as well as a Teaching Fellow at the University of Münster Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology. He conducted doctoral research with the ERC-funded GLOBALSPORT research project at the University of Amsterdam Department of Anthropology.
Subject: Anthropology (General)Anthropology of ReligionGender Studies and Sexuality
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