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Title: Choosing to run : a history of gender and athletics in Kenya, c. 1940s - 1980s
Author: Sikes, Michelle Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 5362 380X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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Choosing to Run: A History of Athletics and Gender in Kenya, c. 1940s – 1980s explores the history of gender and athletics in Kenya, with focus on the Rift Valley Province, from the onset of late colonial rule in the 1940s through the professionalisation of the sport during the last decades of the twentieth century. The first two empirical chapters provide a history of athletics during the colonial period. The first highlights the continuity of ideas about sport and masculinity that were developed in nineteenth century Britain and were subsequently perpetuated by the men in charge of colonial sport in Kenya. The next chapter considers how pre-colonial divisions of labour and power within Rift Valley communities informed local peoples' cultures of running. The absence of women’s running was not only the result of sexism translated from the British metropole to its Kenyan colony but also of pre-existing divisions of responsibilities of indigenous Kenyan men and women into separate, gendered domains. The second half of the thesis considers the impact of social change within women’s athletics internationally and of marriage, childbirth and education locally on female runners in the Rift Valley during the post-colonial period. Most women abandoned athletics once they reached maturity. Those who sought to do otherwise, as the final chapter argues, found that they could only do so by replicating the prototype of masculine runners that had already been established. Later, after the professionalisation of running allowed women to become wealthy, female patrons took this a step further by providing resources to those in their community in need, setting themselves up as 'Big (Wo)men'. This thesis uses athletics to reveal how gender relations and gender norms have evolved and the benefits and challenges that the sport has brought both to individual Kenyan women and their communities.
Supervisor: Cheeseman, Nic; Deutsch, Jan-Georg Sponsor: Rhodes Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Economic and Social History ; International,imperial and global history ; History of Africa ; History of other areas ; Gender ; Women ; sport ; Kenya ; Africa ; economic history ; social history ; running ; athletics