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Faculty Spring 2021: Michelle Sikes

Choosing to Run: A History of Gender and Sport in Kenya

Assistant Professor of Kinesiology, African Studies, and History


Choosing to Run: A History of Gender and Sport in Kenya is a book project that explores the history of women’s running in Kenya: what female runners achieved, what stymied their success vis-à-vis men, family, and community responses, and how these matters changed over time. The book examines the culture of colonizers as well as the colonized, their dynamic interplay, post-colonial legacies, shifting relations and opportunities within the global sporting world, and the socio-economic and political environment especially of the principle group studied – Kalenjin runners – in Kenya. The interdisciplinary scope of this book project expands several areas of scholarship within the humanities, including sport history, African history, and gender studies. Deploying a variety of primary sources, from official documents and newspaper reports to oral interviews and other records of individual testimony, the analysis builds on Africanist historiography, examining in particular “moral ethnicity” as a framework in which to understand the nature of social cohesion and gendered roles in Kenya's Rift Valley.