"Our brother's keeper" : moralities of transformation at YMCA centres in the UK and The Gambia

Wignall, Ross (2016) "Our brother's keeper" : moralities of transformation at YMCA centres in the UK and The Gambia. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

Founded in London in 1844, the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) has spread across the world, becoming integrated into state programmes of social reform and driving a development discourse that links socially productive youth into economic moralities of transformation. I trace the circulation of these ideas through a multi-sited, cross-cultural ethnographic study of Young Men's Christian Associatin (YMCA) centres in the UK and The Gambia, focussing on YMCA programmes that operate transnationally, implementing global youth-oriented policy in local centres linked by bilateral partnerships. I follow these transnational linkages from Sussex Central YMCA (based in Brighton and Hove, England) where I have strong links as worker and volunteer, to a similarly sized centre in Banjul, Gambia, creating a cross-cultural analytical framework through which to explore the experiences of young men participating in their programmes. Using these contrasting contexts, I focus on the lives, narratives and practices of young men and YMCA staff in each location, analysing how YMCA programmes foster a version of transnational masculinity that combines economic rationality with the spiritual principles derived from Protestant Christianity. I explore this in reference to an often implicit, idealised form of YMCA masculinity based around strenght of 'mind, body and spirit', known as the 'Whole Man'. I suggest that the 'Whole Man' operates as an idealised motif of manhood within YMCA centres, fostering notions of self-sacrifice, empathy and embodied dynamism that is reproduced at the YMCA through 'secular rituals'. I trace how these masculine subjectivities interact with localised conceptions of manhood and youth in each location, focussing on the interplay of differing versions, conceptualisations and practices of masculine behaviour in each location. This thesis is generated by the friction between self-help models and actual lived realities, frictions which I hope to show represent the limitations of totalising models of coherent subjectivity based on moral principles.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology > GN301 Ethnology. Social and cultural anthropology > GN397 Applied anthropology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology > GN301 Ethnology. Social and cultural anthropology > GN406 Cultural traits, customs, and institutions > GN451 Intellectual life Including communication, recreation, philosophy, religion, knowledge, etc.
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2016 15:23
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 15:23
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/63209

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