Christian Ungruhe

Christian Ungruhe is a trained anthropologist with a strong interdisciplinary approach and working experience in the fields of human geography, global history, sport sociology and social anthropology. In his research, he focusses on issues of migration and mobility in the realm of youth, gender, sport and inequalities with a regional emphasis on rural and urban West Africa and its translocal connections.

He has joined the international research consortium ‘Migration and Translocality in West Africa’ (MiTra-WA), funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, in September 2021. In his work, he studies interlinkages and dynamics between migrants’ places of origin and destination to better understand the drivers, practices, structures and processes of rural-urban and cross-border migration and their interconnected impacts for rural and urban settings in West Africa. Empirically, he pursues a longitudinal study on young women’s migration practices from northern Ghana and their impact on gender relations and women’s social and economic participation and in the region.

Rotterdam: Mobile Lifeworlds
Between 2019 and 2021, he was a Marie Curie fellow at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC) at Erasmus University Rotterdam (the Netherlands). In his project ‘Mobile Life Worlds. Trajectories of West African football migrants en route and in South-East Asia’ he followed football players who pursue professional contracts in the Global South. Undertaking a longitudinal ethnographic approach, he particularly worked with players whom he had accompanied since 2010 and looked at the processes of their social, spatial and everyday mobilities and subjectivities on the road and in the making, with an emphasis on how the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted on their migration projects.

Aarhus: Sport migration and precarious life course trajectories
Before this, he worked at Aarhus University (Denmark) in a postdoc project on post-career life course trajectories of West African footballers in Northern Europe (2015-2019). By combining lenses of spatiality and temporality, his work dealt with players’ transitions into post-playing careers and the transformation of their physical capital into other relevant forms of social, cultural and economic capital. In particular, he focussed on former players’ ambivalent experiences of precarity and their communication in transnational settings (e.g., with kin and friends at places of origin).

Bayreuth: Migration, Youth, Sport
In 2015, he completed his PhD project at Bayreuth University (Germany) in which he dealt with the relationship between internal migration practices and the gendered negotiations of life phases of youth and social adulthood among young people from rural northern Ghana in the country’s southern cities. His project was based on thirteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in various Ghanaian localities. Beside this, between 2009-2013, he was working in a project on the trajectories of West African football players to and in Europe. (Bayreuth University). He particularly studied processes of racial ‘Othering’ as well as players’ responses to and the reproduction of existing images of Black people in Germany more generally.

More about Christan’s scholarship