Abstract

In the midst of a noncommunicable disease (ncd) crisis, sport has emerged as a popular public health strategy across Oceania. Promising to turn unhealthy, obese bodies into fit, productive bodies, sport-based health programs are supposed to contribute to the economic development of Pacific Island nations. In Sāmoa, however, these efforts have been complicated by an existing web of meaning entangling sport within the transnational realities of Samoan families. Drawing from twelve months of multi-sited, ethnographic field research on sport for development (sfd) in Sāmoa, this paper demonstrates how Samoan understandings of sport reshape what it means to be a fit and productive citizen. Specifically, I illuminate (1) how sport is perceived as a “ticket” overseas and (2) how sport is perceived as a viable alternative pathway to the blessed life, especially for those (male) youth not excelling in school. Finally, I discuss (3) how sfd is a sociocultural response to a shifting transnational political economy of tautua (service) to the family, church, and village rooted in an unevenly expanding social landscape of mobility and work. This paper contributes to anthropological conversations on contemporary sporting formations in Oceania by highlighting how sport is reimagined and repackaged by Samoan youth, education leaders, and government officials as a development tool to create healthy development futures.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9464
Print ISSN
1043-898X
Pages
pp. 303-323
Launched on MUSE
2014-09-17
Open Access
No
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