Decolonial re-existence and sports : the stories of Afghan youth in Sweden
Sammanfattning: In the context of sports and migration, research within policy-driven themes (i.e., integration) have consistently flattened out the migrants’ experiences, meanings and understandings of sports and physical activity to make sense for and from Euro-centric perspectives and framings. Thus, muting other relevant, alternative and already existing ways of living sports and physical activity. Critical sports studies, on the other hand, have demonstrated that sports (and physical activity) remain a contested domain where various human experiences are negotiated and remade along the intersecting lines of class, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, legal status and (dis)ability. The aim in this study has been to work within a decolonial framework to demonstrate how migrant youth in Sweden navigate, experience, challenge and generate knowledge in relation to physical activity and sports.Doing decolonial research in sports studies means delinking from Eurocentric thought and epistemology in order to uncover alternative forms of physical culture and practice that generate different meanings to that of the (Western) hegemonic discourse. To do this, we, the youth and I, have worked and researched together within the framework of participatory art-based action research and our shared Khorasani epistemology. This means that the coresearchers have been active participants in generating research material, analysing the material and disseminating the generated knowledge. Grounded in Indigenous, borderland, Chicana and Black feminist knowldeges as well decolonial thought, this thesis contributes both theoretically and methodologically to the field of sport and exercise in relation to young asylum seekers and migration research. The participatory analysis demonstrates that for the Afghan youth in this study sport and physical activity was not a distinct entity, rather it was intertwined with various aspects of their lives, such as their experiences of child labour, pleasures, hopes for the future, leisure, social and mental aspects, and migration experiences. Furthermore, the youth revealed that despite various forms of oppression, trauma and hardship, they constantly returned, or rather, reclaimed life and future in their acts of self-reflection, friendship, love and hope within the context of sport and life. They, thus, moved beyond the mere resistance of the precarities in their lives to bring about a re-existence. The findings of this thesis also highlight the affordances and limitations of participatory methods, art-based research and decolonising work. Although the participatory methods grounded in the epistemology of the youth (and myself), allowed us to reclaim and tell our stories in our ways, they fell short in making lasting systemic transformations. These limitations also give rise to new questions and possibilities for future research in relation to how change and transformation are defined and researched; and whether these definitions are somewhat limiting and influenced by the colonial rhetoric of salvation underlining participatory action research basic principles of empowerment and critical consciousness.
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