Between the Boundaries: The Athletic Citizenship Quest of Carlota Gooden
What is the relationship between sport and citizenship? By tracing the experiences of Carlota Gooden, a West Indian Panamanian sprinter, this article explores the possibilities and limitations of athletic citizenship, a form of symbolic social citizenship that confers material advantages. Born and raised in the U.S.-controlled Canal Zone, Gooden competed for Panama at multiple regional and international sporting events in the 1950s. Even though she successfully represented Panama, her achievements did not grant her uncontested national belonging. Gooden instead had to navigate constantly boundaries of race, gender, and nation to secure opportunities in sport. Her strategies resemble those employed by West Indian Panamanians and other populations of the African Diaspora who sought citizenship in the 1950s Americas. Yet the athletic opportunities Gooden found provided her with rights and recognitions otherwise unavailable. Sport, thus, allowed Gooden actively to claim a greater degree of citizenship.