Oct. 24, Monday, 20:00
In 1946, in a politicized debate over the status of young male citizens who make a profession out of football, Ali Sami Yen and Fahrettin Kerim Gökay used a gender-charged language when urging authorities to impose labor control on footballers “who now dress elegantly, get their hands manicured, and drink whiskey in high-end bars.” Talented and upwardly mobile young males whose careers elude social control by sport clubs and their popular fan bases still face masculine criticism for being effeminate sell-outs, unmanly moneygrubbers, disloyal traitors, or unvirtuous egoists. Neither unskilled manual workers nor esteemed professionals like lawyers and doctors, athletes in revenue sports occupy an ambiguous position in the labor market. While most are working-class males born and raised in low-income families and districts, a select fraction of these working-class boys do become shareholders of superstar economies and moneyed celebrities. Yet, their work is undeniably physical. This ‘out-of-place’ status provokes gendered and racialized tropes about the athlete’s liminal masculinity. Mistrust for celebrity athletes has become more visible as transnational regulations about contract clauses, enforcement, and arbitration now trump local and national rules that have earlier imposed controls on the professional mobility of elite-level footballers – and as monetary stakes in the upper echelons of the transfer market rise to astronomical heights. Based on a mix of archival, literary, and ethnographic sources, my talk analyzes representations of professional careers in the world of men’s football. I then put these representations in dialogue with Pierre Rosanvallon’s Society of Equals to think about their broader implications for equality, democracy, and meritocracy under neoliberal globalization.
Can Evren has a B.A. and M.A. in Sociology from Bogazici University and a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University. He is currently a postdoctoral associate at Boston University’s Kilachand Honors College. His ongoing book project, tentatively titled How Soccer Remade Modern Turkey, analyzes the history of conflicts between territorial nation-building and the commercial-popular-global order of professional men’s soccer. The book is a mix of ethnography and historiography, focusing both on the earlier decades of nation-building and present-day Turkey. Among his research and teaching interests are economic anthropology, political and legal anthropology, anthropology of globalization, and sports history and cultures.
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