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Forging New Networks Based on Shared Provenance: The Experience of Lusophone African Football Migrants
This paper examines the processes of solidarity in which black, white, and mestiço (mixed race) football players engaged as they migrated from Portugal’s African territories to the metropole from roughly the 1940s until the end of the colonial period in 1975. Once in the metropole, I argue that provenance served as a durable social bond, transcending, eroding, or at least tempering social, racial, and even political divides. Throughout, provenance remained an important aspect of personal identity, with African footballers hailing from the same colonies enjoying a natural affinity predicated on shared experiences and points of reference that transcended their oft-divergent socioeconomic backgrounds. Shared provenance also generated a type of resilient solidarity, as black and mestiço players shared a series of formative experiences with white players from the colonies. Although scholars have heretofore considered the implications of provenance among immigrant communities, examples of interracial cooperation in these reconstituted communities are rare, as diasporic populations often reflect and actively maintain preexisting social divides. My emphasis on the experiential importance of provenance and its transcendent role in facilitating and deepening intercultural amity, community, and solidarity among these migrant athletes builds upon these examinations of the development of genuine interracial, intergender relations in colonial Africa. These players’ engagement in a multitude of cooperative and conciliatory relationships that generated new communities and networks composed of players, but also of players and fans in both the metropole and the empire, suggests that sportive activity can transcend an array of divides, past and present.