Sueños del norte : Black Panamanian hoop dreams and the realities of basketball trafficking



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My dissertation focuses on the journeys an Afro-Panamanian basketball player, to unmask the discrimination and exploitation that shapes his efforts at achieving class mobility through sports. I utilize Multi-Sited Person-Centered Ethnography, underpinned by Critical Race Theory and Post/Coloniality Theory, to capture the complexity of the personal, including the macro and the micro of being an Afro-Panamanian male youth basketball player, who is spatially mobile and ultimately victimized by basketball trafficking. By employing this methodology, I explore the point at which basketball trafficking begins for the young men at the center of my study who are caught within this system. Basketball trafficking is a term I have coined that captures the exploitative and unregulated migration of youth to the United States as part of interscholastic athletic programs that abuse the F-1 student visa system. My research problematizes the idea that the trafficking and exploitation of young men within basketball solely begins in the United States and instead argues that histories of and ongoing practices of discrimination within Panama largely contributed to teenagers finding themselves in the precarious situation, where their international student-athlete visa status is used as a tool of exploitation. Additionally, my dissertation argues that U.S. intercollegiate athletics works in tandem with U.S Immigration Customs & Enforcement(ICE) to police and enforce the removal of non-citizen Black youth from the U.S. once their athletic labor is no longer needed.


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