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Title: Being Fijian in the global system of professional Rugby Union : articulating multiple values through mobile bodies
Author: Guinness, Daniel
ISNI:       0000 0004 8502 561X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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A global rugby system has emerged which both motivates and facilitates the movement of large numbers of highly skilled professional athletes, and their swift integration into the dense social relations of professional clubs. Crucially, the global rugby system has become an articulation between the many localized values and practices of rugby and the professional codes of globally-oriented coaches and managers. This thesis uses an ethnographic approach to reveal the development of professionalism as a specific body culture produced at particular nodes, which has expanded to connect rugby union globally. In particular this theses focusses on the experiences of some of the several hundred indigenous Fijian professional rugby migrants playing overseas during the last fifteen years, and the several thousand aspiring young men working to do the same. This case study of mobility highlights the importance of the social, cultural and gendered contexts of specific mobility projects. Furthermore, the sometimes obvious cultural tensions that these men experience in the global system reveal the processes and power dynamics which create and define each local node and the global system as a whole. For these men rugby represents a unique opportunity to pursue both immediate social recognition in Fiji, fulfil familial expectations, gain the much coveted international mobility, and pursue an highly enjoyed activity. Individual and collective "rugby dreams" emerge in Fiji and motivate the collective production of rugby players willing to go overseas. To attain and retain professional contracts Fijians must abandon some of their own cultural system and meet the particular expectations of the clubs they play for. Those who successfully negotiate the transitions develop alternative Fijian professionalisms, combining the essence of their Fijian identity with the requirements of their adopted club. This articulation produces and manages the mobility of players, allowing skills and motivations developed in families and clubs of Fiji to be used by clubs on the other side of the globe. The ethnographic study of professional body culture as it emerges and is experienced in multiple locations within an interconnected global system is an innovative and particularly anthropological approach to understanding the social organisation of global sport. This approach contributes to the existing anthropological literature on mobility, globalisation and sport by highlighting the cultural tensions at different locations within this professionalised global system, revealing the multiple levels of frictions and power dynamics encountered by the mobile men within it.
Supervisor: Xiang, Biao Sponsor: Rhodes Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Social anthropology