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Running for Modernity: athletics, social change, and replacing Kenyan traditionalism with a modern consciousness
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Cultural Anthropology.
2012 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Kenya has become known as a nation with an outstanding output of world class runners. Fieldwork for this thesis has been carried out in the western Rift Valley region at the town Eldoret, said to be “the home of athletes.” Through participant observation and narrative interviewing this thesis aim to display what role athletics play in processes of social change and modernization. The research questions are to examine how runners are associated with modernist discourses comparing runner’s exposure to alternative lifestyles with those that are expected by tradition. In a broad perspective, sport is in academic literature depicted a homogenizing force of identification with an increasing sameness, placelessness and standardization of modernity. In this sense this thesis aims to test this claim of homogeneity in a Kenyan setting. By describing how athletics once was introduced by the British colonialists as a tool for ‘civilization’, running may still carry on a neo-colonial projection of a modern consciousness where the ‘achievement principle’, the idea of meritocracy, individualism and striving in running are sought to replace a tradition of ascribed status with an tradition of achieving status. Finally discussed is how athletics is perceived and used in building visions of the modern Kenyan nation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 157 p.
Masteruppsatser i kulturantropologi, ISSN 1653-2244 ; 40
Keyword [en]
athletics, social change, tribal and modern society, urban, rural, standardization, progress and backwardness
National Category
Social Anthropology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-212447OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-212447DiVA: diva2:677837
Educational program
Masters in Humanities, Cultural Anthropology
Available from: 2013-12-10 Created: 2013-12-10 Last updated: 2013-12-10Bibliographically approved

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