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U. (Uros) Kovac, PhD

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow


I am a social anthropologist working on youth, gender, migration, religion, and development, often through the prism of sports in Africa.

My Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie postdoctoral project (2023-2025), based at the Centre for Religion, Conflict and Globalization (CRCG), is entitled “JANUSHOPE: Two-Faced Hopes.” It investigates the intersection of football, migration, and religion among African migrants in Europe in order to study hope. The project turns to African “irregular” migrants who hope to sign contracts with European football clubs to understand how their faith-based narratives of hope might both critique and reproduce inequalities of global sport, global capitalism, and transnational migration.

My first monograph, The Precarity of Masculinity: Football, Pentecostalism, and Transnational Aspirations in Cameroon (2022), is an ethnography of young men in western Africa who aspire to migrate by becoming football players, and among the few in anthropology that examines formations of gender through sports and religion. It explores relations between neoliberalism, Pentecostalism, masculinity, and the commercialization of sports, and counters simplistic assumptions of a crisis of masculinity in Africa and elsewhere. This work also appears in Anthropological Quarterly (2021), Comparative Studies in Society and History (2018), and Sport, Migration, and Gender in the Neoliberal Age (Routledge, 2021).

As a postdoctoral researcher at the “Future Rural Africa” Collaborative Research Centre, based at the University of Cologne (2018-2021), I conducted ethnographic and archival research on gender and religion in Kenya’s Rift Valley, but also on development and ethnicity among Kenyan long-distance runners. This research examines relations between environment, infrastructure, and professional sports, and challenges dominant paradigms of Africans’ agency in global capitalism, namely paradigms that assume marginality, dependence, and subjection. This work was published in JRAI: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (2023), Ethnos (2023), and Journal of Eastern African Studies (2023).
Last modified:01 March 2024 2.53 p.m.

Contact information

Oude Boteringestraat 38
9712 GK Groningen
The Netherlands