“Becoming a Wrestler on the Outskirts of Khartoum, Sudan”

Date and time: Friday 23 August, 3–5pm
Speaker: Paul Hayes (PhD Candidate in Anthropology, ANU)
Location: Milgate Room, Level 2, A.D. Hope Building (#14), ANU

This post-fieldwork seminar examines the bodily practices and related material culture of young men in Khartoum, Sudan, who practice ‘Nuba wrestling’, a combat sport indigenous to Sudan. Based on 12 months of collaborative photography and first-hand sporting apprenticeship with wrestlers, I attempt to understand the magnetism of the sport through its concrete corporeal practices and material relations. I analyse the wrestlers’ material and bodily repertoires, not only for what they might mean as symbolic rituals or communicative signs, but also for what they do to the wrestler-subject. Through a microphysics of becoming a wrestler, I show how the doing of ‘corporeal-matter-in-motion’ leads to the creation of a specific being: an uneasy subject, caught between Sudan’s nascent pan-ethnic neoliberal modernity, and the racist vestiges of the Sudanese Islamist state.

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