Sport. Race. Kinship. Masculinity.
I'm a socio-cultural anthropologist whose ethnographic research uses sport to theorize race, kinship and care, gender, and the performing body. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Virginia and I'm currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Notre Dame and a Research Collaborator at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
I will join Notre Dame’s Department of Anthropology faculty as an Assistant Professor in fall 2021.
My fieldwork has been supported by various agencies, including the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Postdoctoral Research Associate
University of Notre Dame
Dr. Tracie Canada
Ethnographer and Anthropologist
My first book project, tentatively entitled Tackling the Everyday: Race, Family, and Nation in Big-Time College Football, is an ethnographic study of Black college football players. Specifically, it will focus on the interconnectedness of race, kinship, care, and violence. This book tells how institutional systems and spaces of everyday life order, discipline, and enact violence against Black players. It also details with granular precision how these athletes navigate their football programs, as well as their university. Through an analysis of college athletes, Blackness, and two types of care, Tackling the Everyday argues that Black college football players successfully move through their everyday lives by reimagining certain kinship relationships and relying on various geographies of care. I show that in the face of a broader normative narrative that prioritizes the football team, they take strength from and build relationships with their Black football brothers and their own extended family kin, specifically their moms.
My next ethnographic project will consider American football through the intersection of medical anthropology, care, and disability studies. There is a growing trend of white flight from football, with white parents in upper-income communities pulling their sons from the sport over the increasing threat of long-term injuries like concussions. Therefore, I'm interested in the families of young football players who live through injury, opt out of sport, or are concerned for their children’s sporting well-being but still allow them to play. To complement the quantitative work being done on the implications of sport injury, this project will contribute a human and social dimension to the now common discourse on the debilitating consequences of traumatic brain injury.
My third project, "Integrating Tobacco Road Football, 1965-1975," takes seriously the lived experiences of the Black players who integrated the sport at four historically white North Carolina universities. By relying on qualitative methods – primarily archival and oral history research – I will explore the material and social contexts within which pioneering Black athletes were living and argue that social inequalities manifest in embodied athletic practice. Once completed, this research will contribute to the archival and ethnographic record the lived realities of Black football players who are often rendered invisible. Further, this historical project will contextualize the current moment of college football, which is riddled with structurally violent issues of systemic racism, exploitation, power, and hegemonic masculinity.
“Special Focus: Engaging 'The Second Generation of African American Pioneers in Anthropology'.” April 2021.
"Tackling Care and Capitalism in College Football." December 2020.
“A Kelleyan Approach to Anthropology.” July 2019.
“'I Do It For Them': Teammate Bonds and Constructed Brotherhood.” November 2018.
“Power Players: US Football and French Rugby.” October 2018. https://www.sapiens.org/culture/paying-college-athletes-football-rugby/
“For the Love of Football.” August 2018.
“Passionate Doubleness: Genius and Struggle in the Life and Work of W.E.B. Du Bois.” August 2017.
I've been asked to present on and discuss a range of issues, including mentoring underrepresented students, ethnographic fieldwork practices, and connections between race, sport, and kinship. Here is a sampling of those events: