Author:Aaron Parkhurst (University College London)
Paper short abstract:
Through a biosocial analysis of ski-jumping, and the politics of building the women's event in the Olympics, this paper argues that bodily and material ecology offers insight into how gender relations are made and contested.
Paper long abstract:
Sport is, in many profound ways, a microcosm of how society views the world. Sport is largely overlooked in the social sciences, yet is one of the most important social institutions and behaviours in which humans participate. Following the panel's call for 'material ecology' as an analytic to explore the affordances of the body in different social and physical landscapes, this paper analysis gender relations through a material ecology of sport. Specifically, this paper examines the institution of ski - jumping. It analysis a crucial moment in every performance of the sport: the point of impact between a person's body and the ground as one lands. This moment had been used for many years to deny women the right to compete in the event at the highest international levels. After many years of campaigning by athletes, the full women's event was added in the Sochi 2014 Olympics. The paper takes seriously the biology of the human body and pivots it against social structures and biases within society. Through a biosocial analysis of ski-jumping, and the politics of building the women's event in the Olympics, I argue that this moment of impact presents a bodily ecology that offers insight into how gender relations are made and contested.
Corporeality & material ecology: the affordances of stuff and wellbeing