Kenya's Running Women: A History (African History and Culture) (Paperback)
Since Pauline Konga’s breakthrough performance at the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta, the world has become accustomed to seeing Kenyan women medal at major championships, sweep marathons, and set world records. Yet little is known about the pioneer generation of women who paved the way for Kenya’s reputation as an international powerhouse in women’s track and field. In Kenya’s Running Women: A History, historian and former professional runner Michelle M. Sikes details the triumphs and many challenges these women faced, from the advent of Kenya’s athletics program in the colonial era through the professionalization of running in the 1980s and 1990s. Sikes reveals how over time running became a vehicle for Kenyan women to expand the boundaries of acceptable female behavior. Kenya’s Running Women demonstrates the necessity of including women in histories of African sport, and of incorporating sport into studies of African gender and nation-building.
Michelle M. Sikes is an assistant professor of kinesiology, African studies, and history as well as an executive committee member of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Pennsylvania State University. Prior to joining the Penn State faculty, Sikes was a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, where she completed her doctorate, and then a lecturer at the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Sikes has coedited several volumes on African and sports history, including Women’s Sport in Africa (2015), The Politics of Historical Memory and Commemoration in Africa (2022), and Sport and Apartheid South Africa: Histories of Politics, Power, and Protest (2022). Her work has also appeared in The International Journal of the History of Sport, Sport History Review, Journal of Sport History, Sport in History, Journal of Olympic Studies, and History in Africa. Formerly a professional runner, Sikes represented the USA in the 5000 meters at the 2007 World Track and Field Championships and won an NCAA Division I championship at the same distance.