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Daniel Burdsey's blog

The GTActivity project: a view from across the Atlantic

As an international researcher on the GTActivity project, my location in the United Kingdom allows a distinct perspective on the physical cultural activities of minority ethnic communities in Toronto and its environs. Alongside my interest in the cultures, practices and spaces of sport and leisure in the city per se, my geographical and analytical distance from the research site makes thinking about comparisons with places with which I am more familiar irresistible. What might we expect to find if a similar project was undertaken, say, in London? Or in smaller urban hubs of migration and multiculture, like the cities of Birmingham or Leicester in the English Midlands, where I lived some years ago? Moreover, what happens in “new/er” spaces of multiculture, such as the countryside or the coast? I am sure that much would be the same and much would be different. Thinking through these sorts of comparative questions is fundamental to a relational sociology that is attentive to context, time and scale. In short, my curiosity is driven by a concern to map and explore the “larger picture” of physical activity in the Greater Toronto Area yet to retain a focus on the distinctiveness of place, thus ‘guard[ing] against the provincialism of the particular, while paying local circumstances careful attention’ (Back and Keith 2014: 20).