Diaspora and global sports migration: A case study in the English and New Zealand contexts
In an increasingly globalised world, athletic migration becomes an important vector through which to understand issues related to citizenship, nationalism and identity. The intensification of such sports-related migration has spurred research into how sporting migrants are understood, and understand themselves, in relation to concepts such as nationalism, transnationalism, globalisation and cosmopolitanism.2 Indeed, our analysis begins from the position that sport is an important site for exploring ‘the complex interplay between ethnicity, “race”, nation, culture and identity’ (Ansari, 2004, p. 209). Sport researchers clearly identify the continuing importance of sport to nationalism (e.g. Bairner, 2001; Maguire, 1999; Rowe, 2003; Silk et al., 2005). At the same time, social commentators make a broader case that the decentring of the state has led to multiple narratives and new identities including diasporic forms of identity and citizenship (see Appadurai, 1996; Billig, 1995; Cohen, 1997; Urry, 2003). As a result, analyses of internationally mobile athletes can provide insights into wider processes of cultural globalisation, raising questions about identity, place and allegiance in the context of a ‘pluralization of national identities’ (Maguire and Bale, 1994, pp. 283-4). What is surprising is the relatively late entry of the concept of diaspora into the
theorisation of sporting migration, especially given its salience in describing wideranging forms of transnational migration and settlement. Diaspora broadly refers to the movement of peoples who travel across borders,
most often of nation-states, to form communities which retain a range of ties – such as economic, familial and symbolic – to the original place of departure (see Anthias, 1998; Brah, 1996; Brubaker, 2005; Clifford, 1994; Reis, 2004). Diaspora, therefore, ‘denotes transnational movement and ties in with debates about non-nation based solidarities’ (Anthias, 1998, p. 557). More recently, theories of diaspora have expanded beyond the original focus on traumatic, forced dispersal to include voluntary forms of movement which appear more relevant to the sporting context. Our analysis is grounded in versions of diaspora which are variously termed as postmodern (Anthias, 1998), cultural (Cohen, 1997) or contemporary (Reis, 2004). Most relevant are the versions that stem from debates around the ways in which ‘race’ and ethnic boundaries are re-configured in the context of global transformations (e.g. Brah, 1996; Cohen, 1997; Gilroy, 1991, 1993; Hall, 2001). Here, questions about the cultural politics of ‘home’ and ‘belonging’ – of ‘roots’ and ‘routes’
(Brah, 1996, p. 192) – in contemporary transnational migration have been interrogated. In such diasporic movements, people may retain multiple affiliations that transcend the nation-state, such as the ‘double consciousness’ negotiated by ‘black’ people who adopt African and western identities which Gilroy (1993) so ably illustrates in The Black Atlantic. We suggest that, despite the need for conceptual clarification, diasporas in transnational settings offer ‘an alternative paradigm for national (or multinational, transnational, and even postnational) identification’ (Braziel and Mannur, 2003, p. 8). Most importantly for our analysis here, diasporic identities offer increasing challenges to the ‘notion that a national community is necessarily bounded by its geographic borders’ (Braziel and Mannur, 2003, p. 15).