At the core of this dissertation is a critical examination of the disjuncture between the policy and practice of sport for development. Drawing on a vertical case study of gender, sport, and education in the Pacific Island nation of Samoa, the study illuminates how a healthy islands through sport (HITS) policy world centered around using sport to create healthier bodies for a thriving nation is discursively created in inter/national policy but effectively separate and detached from the gendered logics guiding already existing translocal practices of sport for development. This practice, as described to me by my interlocutors, observed through twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork, and quantitatively surveyed, includes ideas about development centered around the translocal 'aiga (family) rather than the territorial boundaries of the nation, tautua (service) rather than health behavior change, and alofa (love) rather than one's body size. Locally imagined sport for development also intricately ties together notions of transnational mobility and globalization with shifting practices of masculinity and muscularity, raises important questions about the purpose and kind of education needed for development, and highlights a local field of action that ironically coexists with a prescribed policy world focused on using sport to recalibrate unruly bodies into virtuous bio-citizens. Contrasting etic and emic constructions of sport in development, this dissertation makes two arguments. First, it highlights how many Samoans view sport as a roundtrip ticket off island toward economic opportunity and the imagined good life. In this case, it is not necessarily the quest to produce a healthy body that attracts Samoan youth, especially men, to sport but rather its potential to move bodies into more central locations within a global economy of remittances that makes sport popular. Second, this study demonstrates how inter/national development policy does not drive local practice. Instead, development actors sustain policy through a strategic process of social interpretation and translation that serves to align practice with policy at the surface while concealing deeper disjunctures of practice below. By juxtaposing what sport for development policy in Samoa is intended to achieve with how it is actually practiced, imagined, and socially managed, this dissertation foregrounds a dialectic of development imaginations that multiply shape the ways "playing for the future" has been incorporated into the development imaginations of Samoan youth, educators, community leaders, and government officials.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2014. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisors: Frances Vavrus, Peter Demerath. 1 computer file (PDF); xix, 400 pages.
Playing for the future: Sport and the production of healthy bodies in policy and practice.
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