What meaning does a daily soccer game in a public Los Angeles park have for a group of Latino men and the ethnographer who studied them? In today’s episode, we talk with Dr. David Trouille, Assistant Professor of Sociology at James Madison University, about the ten years of fieldwork behind his new book Fútbol in the Park from the University of Chicago press.
In a thoughtful self-reflexive conversation, David tells us how a neighborhood campaign against the players initially drew him to the community of Latino soccer players that are the subject of his book. He describes how he built relationships with the men over time on and off the field, and how the social space of the games created social ties that were essential to their ability to find work. While surrounding well-to-do mostly white communities accepted the men as workers in their homes, they simultaneously resisted their visible presence in the park. David tells us how this stigmatization, combined with national discourses constructing Latino men as “bad hombres” created dilemmas in how to write about his research. He explains how he made difficult decisions to only partially anonymize the men but not write about their immigration status, and ultimately describe the men as complex and real human beings, including writing about their drinking and occasional fighting.
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Sneha Annavarapu is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago.