Performing the postcolonial: the 'migrant' body as a site of veneration, repugnance and blame
by Stephanie Alice Baker
International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion (IJWOE), Vol. 5, No. 3, 2013

Abstract: Historically, football in France has reflected broader processes of transmigration with sporting success and failure reified in terms of the 'migrant' body in its various forms (e.g., with regard to 'race', gender, ethnicity and religion). This process of reification applies particularly to major sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup, where icons and scandals provide opportunities to explore the corporeal discourses through which the body is represented, experienced and performed. In this paper, I employ a series of media scandals involving ethnic players from the French national team to examine how emotions influence attitudes towards migration in contemporary France. As a transgression of society's moral order, the media scandal is used as a paradigm to interrogate the social consequences of representing the migrant body as the source of moral outrage. With 'race' relations at the forefront of French football, and the country's political terrain more generally, I argue that the athletic performance of ethnic players has a profound effect on whether the migrant becomes an object of disgust or veneration. Beyond the triviality typically associated with celebrity misdemeanours, I contend that media scandals involving migrant athletes warrant serious scholarly attention, revealing the intersections between sport, power, and social justice.

Online publication date: Sat, 28-Jun-2014

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