Centre for Social Science and Global Health

Wrestling with hope

7 July 2016

AISSR PhD Mark Hann teamed up with Senegalese filmmaker Mamadou Khouma Gueye with the goal of making a film about the hopes, desires, and lives of aspiring athletes in Senegal. The collaboration resulted in the ethnographic documentary 'Yëngël Gësëm – Wrestling with hope', which recently premiered in Dakar and Amsterdam.

Struggling to find the steady employment needed to start a family and achieve financial independence, young Senegalese men are increasingly becoming 'entrepreneurs of the self' – exploiting their own physical capital in order to succeed as athletes. The explosive commercial re-emergence of traditional Senegalese wrestling, along with the allure of the global football industry, has traced a new model of masculine success.

The film follows the aspiring young wrestler Ama Diop as he prepares for a fight, navigating between training, mystical rituals, and family obligations. Ama’s trajectory highlights the tensions that emerge in the daily lives of men on the verge of adulthood, in a sport on the brink of professionalization, in a society on the margins of the global economy. 

This project is part of the larger ERC funded project Globalsport.

Published by  AISSR