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(Dis)empowering Paralympic histories: absent athletes and disabling discourses

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Abstract

The reputation and publicity campaigns of the Paralympic Movement revolve largely around its role of empowering those with disabilities. This reputation is secured and reproduced by stories about what predated the Movement, how it began, how it progressed and whom this progress has served. In this paper I look critically at the more implicit discourses about Paralympic pasts that sustain the explicit contemporary discourse of Paralympic empowerment. I begin by analyzing the discursive effects of my own stories about becoming a Paralympian. I then turn my analysis to two histories of the Paralympic Movement: Steadward and Peterson’s Paralympics: Where heroes come and Bailey’s Athlete first: A history of the Paralympic Movement.I argue that these histories represent Paralympians as passive and that they marginalize Paralympians’ stories, undermine their resistances and reproduce the tragedy of disability.
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This is an Author's Original Manuscript of an article whose final and definitive form, the
Version of Record, has been published, copyright Taylor & Francis, as
Peers, Danielle (2009) (Dis)empowering Paralympic histories: absent athletes and
disabling discourses, Disability & Society, 24:5, 653 – 665. Available online at:
http://www.tandfonline.com/ 10.1080/09687590903011113
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(Dis)empowering Paralympic histories: Absent athletes and disabling discourses
Danielle Peers
a**
a
Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
Through sport, its ideals and activities, the IPC seeks the continuous
global promotion of the values of the Paralympic Movement, with a vision
of inspiration and empowerment. (International Paralympic Committee
2003, 4)
…every sentiment, particularly the noblest and most disinterested, has a
history. (Foucault 2003, 360)
Introduction
In a brochure published in 2003, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)
set out their current mission, vision and values. The purpose of the Paralympic
Movement, it states, is not to promote sport, but rather to use sport for “the continuous
global promotion of the values of the Paralympic Movement” (IPC 2003, 4). The
promotion of Paralympic values at a global level, has been operationalized through
increased marketing efforts, greater media exposure, more formalized ties with the
Olympics, and an institutional focus on expansion, “especially in developing countries”
(IPC 2003, 4, see also Bailey 2008; Howe 2008). Given the deliberate propagation,
popularization and globalization of the Paralympic Movement, it is crucial to critically
*
Email: peers@ualberta.ca
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analyze the discourses and discursive effects that Paralympism promotes, produces and
reproduces.
In this paper, I analyze contemporary discourses about the Paralympic Movement
with a focus on how they narrate the past. What kinds of stories must one tell about the
past in order to make 21st century Paralympism, and its claims of “empowerment and
inspiration” (IPC 2003, 4), make sense? By analyzing discourses that are necessary for
the production of the Paralympic Movement, I am also analyzing the discourses that must
be reproduced by the Movement in order for it to reproduce itself.
For the sake of scope, I limit this analysis to discourses that appear within the
only two book-length histories of the Paralympic Movement yet published: Steadward
and Peterson’s (1997) Paralympics: Where heroes come, and Bailey’s (2008) Athlete
first: A history of the Paralympic Movement. Although I focus on these two texts, I begin
with a short personal narrative about my own ambivalent experiences as a Paralympian
and poster-child. I start here in order to situate myself as the analyst, as well as a
producer and a product of Paralympic discourses. In so doing, I hope to emphasize the
necessary, mutually dependent elements of Paralympic discourses, which include:
progressive, empowering and benevolent able-bodied experts; heroic, empowered, and
grateful Paralympians; and tragic, passive and anonymous disabled.
1
1
I use the term disabled with two very clear intentions. First, contrary to the intent of person-first
language, what I am describing is a subjectivity that revolves around disability and not around personhood.
Secondly, I wish to signal the active construction of disability, showing that subjects are being disabled by
the discourses of the Paralympic Movement. I also use various other terms for disability throughout this
paper. These include terminology used by recently quoted sources, as well as the more theoretically
interpretable term, person experiencing disability. In my lack of consistency, as in my use of this last term,
I intend to highlight the contextual, constructed, disparate and fluctuating conglomeration of bodily and
social interactions that gets classified as disability.
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Pedestals and pitfalls: A Paralympian’s narrative
I read the newspaper articles and press releases that others have written about me.
I read my own grant applications, speeches and business cards. I read myself defined, in
each of these, by one word: not crip, queer, athlete, activist, student, woman or lesbian,
but Paralympian. I read my life story transformed into that of The Paralympian. I see my
origins declared, not at the moment of my birth, but at some tragic moment of my
physical disablement. I read my new coherent life narrative: my salvation from the depths
of disability by the progressive, benevolent empowerment of sport. My destiny reads as a
coming of age. I am the heroic Paralympian: pedestal, medal and all.
I realize the ways that this pedestalled narrative has paid off for me: the grants,
the speaking gigs, the looks of awe, and the postponement of pity. I read deeper, and I
realize its costs. I see how it renders me anonymous just as it renders me famous. I feel
how it renders me passive, so that it can empower me (Linton 1998; Nelson 1994;
Titchkosky 2007). I realize how the pedestal turns the social inequality of disability into
something to overcome, rather than something to challenge and change (Hardin and
Hardin 2003; Schell and Rodriguez 2001; Shapiro 1994). I realize how the heroic
Paralympian relies on discourses of the pitiful cripple who can’t overcome, and the
burdensome gimp won’t (Clare 2001; Hardin and Hardin 2004; Linton 2006). I realize
how these discourses serve to set us apart, whether up on the pedestal or down in the
gutter: they enable others not to look us in the eye, they induce us not to look into each
other’s, and they encourage us not to look inside of ourselves.
This individual Paralympian’s story is neither benign nor isolated from larger
narratives of Paralympic history. In many ways, it is inseparable from the two published
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Paralympic histories that I am about to critique. I am implicated in Paralympic histories
at the same time as I am an implication of them. These histories construct me as the
tragic-gimp-turned-heroic-Paralympian, and this identity serves, in turn, to reproduce
these stories about Paralympism. In analyzing these histories, I seek to challenge my own
unified identity, I seek to trouble my own disabling stories, and I seek a more intimate
relationship to resistance.
Covers and titles: A surface analysis of two Paralympic histories
On the surface, there are a number of differences between Steadward and
Peterson’s (1997) Paralympics: Where heroes come (Paralympics) and Bailey’s (2008)
Athlete first: A history of the Paralympic Movement (Athlete first). Most notably, Athlete
first has the distinct feel of an academic textbook, while Paralympics seems more like a
book one would store on one’s coffee table. While the former has only sixteen black and
white photographs to break up the small print, the latter is filled with hundreds of glossy,
full-color photographs and larger font. Additionally, Paralympics offers complex and
detailed accounts of the Movement’s conflicts, power struggles, and domineering
personalities, while Athlete first offers a more simplified, linear, and accessible narrative.
Another key difference is that Paralympic history is the subject of all 280 pages of
Athlete first, while only 154 of Paralympics’ 260 pages deals with Paralympic history. As
such, I limit my analysis to the first 154 pages of Paralympics, but analyze all of Athlete
first. The last significant difference that I address is that of author credibility, an issue
addressed in the “forward” sections of both books. Dr. Robert Steadward, the primary
author of Paralympics, is constructed as having insider’s credibility, both as an academic
in the field of Adapted Physical Activity and as the founding president of the
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International Paralympic Committee (Steadward and Peterson 1997, 9). In contrast, Dr.
Steve Bailey, author of Athlete first, is constructed as credible due to his outsider’s
objectivity and his professional expertise as a sports historian.
Although clearly different in their intended audiences, range of content and
authorial perspectives, Paralympics and Athlete first share remarkably similar discourses
and discursive effects. These discursive similarities are present in many aspects of the
books, but perhaps none so symbolic as their front covers. Both front covers feature
remarkably similar photographs of Paralympians in action: both feature a skier, a goalball
player, and a track athlete, while Athlete first includes an equestrian and two soccer
players, and Paralympics includes a diver. Above these photographs, the titles proclaim
either the athletes’ heroism, in the case of Paralympics: Where heroes come, or their
centrality, in the case of Athlete first: A history of the Paralympic Movement. Although
these titles and photographs explicitly represent Paralympians as active, empowered and
central to the Paralympic Movement, they also serve, more implicitly, to construct
Paralympians as passive, disabled, and marginal.
One example of how Paralympians are implicitly constructed is that eight out of
the nine photographs that adorn these two front covers feature clearly discernable
markers of disability. Whether through the marked absence of limbs, or the marked
presence of a wheelchair, sit-ski, or blindfold, the reader is able to quickly identify the
disabling difference of every athlete except for, perhaps, the soccer players. As DePauw
(1997) argues in her analysis of visual representations of athletes with disabilities, the
“visibility of disability” acts as a kind of caveat, lowering expectations of the athlete’s
abilities and re-centering their disability-based (as opposed to athlete-based) identities
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(424). The hyper-visibility of disability allows the athletes to be read within the context
of common stereotypes about the inability and passivity of disabled bodies. These covers
also play to disabling stereotypes by rendering the athletes in the photographs
anonymous; nowhere in either book are photographed athletes named or otherwise
acknowledged. Although the covers are plastered with photographs of Paralympians,
individual Paralympians, and their accomplishments, are completely absent.
Given this marginalization of athletes, it is hard to miss the (presumably
unintended) irony of the title Athlete first. However, the discursive importance of the title
Paralympics: Where heroes come, may be less obvious. As explained in Steadward and
Peterson’s (1997) preface, this title was inspired by an advertising slogan for the 1996
Paralympics: “the Olympics is where heroes are made. The Paralympics is where heroes
come” (8). The first sentence of this slogan articulates the active process through which
specific athletic achievements during Olympic competition earn certain able-bodied
Olympians their heroic status. The second sentence contrasts this active and specific
heroism against the passive, generalized heroism bestowed upon all Paralympians,
regardless of their accomplishments or actions. This contrast downplays Paralympians, in
comparison to Olympians, in the following terms: their athleticism; the relevance of their
achievements and identities; and the importance of their training, strategizing, organizing,
innovation and resistance. According to this quote, Paralympians need only appear
disabled and appear at the event in order to be considered heroic. Thus, both the titles and
cover photographs of both books construct the Paralympian as passive and disabled, as
well as marginal to Paralympic history.
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Constructing origins: Tragedy and paternity
The relationship between the explicit discourses of Paralympic empowerment,
and their implicit disabling effects, is also evident in the origin narratives of both texts.
Both Paralympics and Athlete first claim that the Paralympic Movement began in 1944
when Dr. Ludwig Guttmann began working with paralyzed war veterans at Stoke
Mandeville, England. Steadward and Peterson go so far as to hail him as “the father of
the Paralympic Movement,” (Steadward and Peterson 1997, 21). Both books construct
Guttmann as primarily responsible for igniting hope, through sport, in a population that
they represent as unequivocally tragic, hopeless, passive, and as good as dead. This
population is signified, in Paralympics, through the description of Guttmann’s alleged
inspiration: a big, strong (anonymous) soldier with a spinal cord injury, who was put at
the end of the ward to die (21). In Athlete first, this population is first introduced in the
second chapter, entitled, An Air of Hopelessness,” which begins with quote in which
Guttmann describes paraplegia as, “one of the most devastating calamities in human life”
(Guttmann qtd. in Bailey 2008, 13). In order, presumably, to attribute these tragic origins
to the wide range of current Paralympians, Bailey (2008) confidently, and without
citation, claims that: “this description can equally be applied to many other debilitating
causes that so radically affect the mobility and functioning of individuals in society”
(Bailey 2008, 13). In this way, Bailey constructs all forms of disability as unequivocally
tragic problems rooted in bodies of individuals.
Both books further marginalize those with disabilities by focusing on Guttmann’s
1944 sport programs as the origin of Paralympism. This move downplays the importance
of competitive sports that were being organized by members of Deaf communities by
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1888, that were practiced in schools for the blind by 1909, and that were invented by
inmates of Stoke Mandeville before Guttmann even began his sporting programs there
(DePauw 2005; Goodman 1986; Howe 2008; Legg et al. 2004). Although both histories
briefly mention some of these events, they do not treat them as significant enough to
challenge the Guttmann’s paternal role or to call into question the passivity of athletes
within the Movement.
Furthermore, constructing Guttmann as Father of the Paralympic Movement
conceals significant social shifts that contributed to the construction of disability as sites
of both tragedy and potential athletic rehabilitation. These developments include: post-
war urbanization and industrialization; increased state control over the health and
productivity of populations; the construction and popularization of statistical
(ab)normality; and the institutionalization of medicine’s power over defining, treating,
discovering and controlling disabilities (Davis 2006; Foucault 2003; Linton 2006;
Tremain 2005). These developments are the contexts within which we must read how the
Paralympics, and its origin narratives, became both possible and intelligible.
Guttmann is not only the paternal figure of these Paralympic origin narratives, but
he is also their primary source of information. Both histories rely almost exclusively on
the words of Guttmann, as sometimes paraphrased by his biographers or friends, to
characterize the lives of all those experiencing disability in the first half of the twentieth
century. It is assumed that, because Guttmann is both able-bodied, and a doctor, he has
no personal stake in how those with disabilities are represented. However, if the pre-
Paralympic disabled were not represented as wholly tragic, they would not seem in need
of rescuing, and by extension, Guttmann and his movement could not claim to be wholly
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responsible for their empowerment and salvation. It is only by acknowledging what is at
stake in discourses of tragic origins, or through providing alternate sources about them,
that we can challenge the tragedy embedded in Guttmann’s descriptions of those who:
“’dragged out their lives as useless and hopeless cripples [sic], unemployable and
unwanted… with no incentive or encouragement to return to a useful life’” (Guttmann
qtd. in Bailey 2008, 14). Unfortunately, the authors of both texts fail to acknowledge
which egos, institutions, and worldviews this prioritization of sources, and its resulting
construction of tragedy, might serve, and to whom it potentially does a grave disservice.
They fail to consider how pre-Paralympic ‘cripples’ actively interpreted and differentially
navigated their own lives. Did they all really live without hope? Did they feel like useless
and unwanted burdens on their loved ones? By contrast, did many find joy, hope and use
in their lives as lovers, parents, friends, thinkers, teachers, artists, organizers, and perhaps
even revolutionaries?
As argued above, the origin narratives within both texts marginalize larger social
contexts and those experiencing disabilities, in order to prioritize Guttmann’s paternity
and to (re)produce an unequivocally tragic and disabled pre-Paralympian. As stated in my
introduction, however, the purpose of this paper is not to make new truth claims about the
past, but rather to analyze how the stories constructed about Paralympic history help
make twenty-first century Paralympic discourses and practices make sense. It is
important to note, therefore, that this tragic origin discourse does not end where
Guttmann’s Paralympic dream begins. That is, the Paralympic Movement did not remedy
the tragedy of disability, but rather, it continually reproduces the figure of the tragic
disabled in order to reproduce itself. As Hardin (2004) argues, this discourse is
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reproduced in every news story about the heroic Paralympian who overcomes their tragic
disabled fate, and in each comparison of this Paralympian to those who have not
overcome. This discourse also weaves its way through most celebrations and
justifications of disability sport, such as that offered by Steadward and Peterson (1997):
“as soon as the community sees the person with a disability participating in sports, that
person is looked on as an equal member of society, not as an appendage” (15). Through
this statement, the authors seek to justify and reproduce Paralympic institutions with
explicit claims of emancipation for athletes with disabilities. In order to make this claim
of emancipation, however, the authors must reproduce a not-so-emancipated alternative:
the non-sporty, or pre-sporty, tragic disabled ‘appendage’.
The most recent area where discourses of tragic disability have come to be used is
in the institutionalized push to expand the Paralympic Movement, “especially in
developing countries” (IPC 2003, 4). It is in this growing Paralympic priority that
discourses about tragic disability collude with colonialist and racist discourses about the
(under)developed and the (un)civilize (Darnell 2007; Landry 1995). For example, Bailey
paraphrases one such discussion at the 1994 Paralympic Congress, led by prominent
Paralympic organizer Carl Wang. Bailey (2008) writes: “Wang went on to decry the
situation in developing countries, where millions of persons with a disability were being
denied even the simplest trimmings of a civilized society” (Bailey 2008, 158). This call to
action uses tragic origin discourses about those needing sporting salvation to reproduce
the colonial benevolence of able-bodied Western experts, and to justify their paternalistic
involvement in the ‘betterment’ of other cultures. At the same time, the argument uses
colonialist discourses to justify institutional Paralympic expansion, to reproduce tragic
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disability, and to efface the economic, social and structural ‘trimmings’ still being
‘denied’ to millions of ‘persons with a disability’ in the so-called developed world.
Progressive empowerment of/over Paralympians
Paralympics and Athlete first share a celebratory narrative that begins with the
original tragedy of disability and steadily progresses, through institutionalization and
expertise, toward ever-increasing levels of athlete empowerment. The great irony of this
progressive empowerment discourse is that it serves to disempower athletes in at least
five overlapping ways: it reproduces the tragic disabled object; it effaces the actions and
stories of athletes; it prioritizes those credited for empowering the athletes; it undermines
athlete resistance; and it justifies the increased use of power over and against
Paralympians.
I have discussed the first three of these five disempowering elements in other
sections of this paper, so I only discuss them briefly here. First, these empowerment
discourses require the continuous reproduction of the tragic and passive disabled.
Without this needy and powerless disabled population, volunteers and experts would not
seem so benevolent, empowerment would not seem so necessary, and the discourse of
athletes being passive recipients of empowerment would not seem so rational. Second,
these empowerment discourses reproduce the passivity of Paralympians by marginalizing
their stories within Paralympic histories. These histories use athlete images, praise their
technologies, and add up their records, but omit their names, their stories of innovation,
and their stories of excellence. Athletes enjoy a central role within the empowerment
discourse, but only as the generalized, anonymous and passive Paralympians for whom,
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and to whom, named, able-bodied subjects procure and provide empowerment. This leads
us to the third disempowering element of empowering discourses: the predominant focus
on the decisions, actions and sacrifices of the volunteers, experts and institutions of
empowerment. The focus on these subjects, not unlike the earlier focus on Guttmann’s
paternity, marginalizes athletes’ actions and voices, thereby leaving disabling discourses
uncontested.
All three of these overlapping elements of disempowerment are easily discernable
in Steadward and Peterson’s (1997) claim that, "the story of the Paralympic Games is the
story of volunteers, thousands and thousands of volunteers, who over the years have
made tremendous sacrifices to improve the lives of those with disabilities” (8). This quote
clearly prioritizes the role of volunteers in the movement, includes Paralympians only as
the object of the volunteers’ actions, and represents these Paralympians, not as athletes,
but as “those with disabilities” who require and inspire “tremendous sacrifices”
(Steadward and Peterson 1997, 8). Likewise, in the preface of Athlete first, Bailey (2008)
claims that the Paralympic Movement was advanced by, “highly dedicated individuals
passionately expressing their vision of the future for athletes with a disability” (xvii).
Again, the author centralizes the role of those acting for athletes while marginalizing the
role of the athletes themselves. Bailey does not explicitly construct the Paralympian to be
as passive and tragic as Steadward and Peterson do. However, his marginalization of the
athlete’s importance in the Movement implicitly reproduces (and relies upon) the
discourse of disabled passivity. In both cases, the athlete is central to the explicit
discourse of progressive empowerment, but only as the passive object that is acted upon.
The fourth disempowering element of the progressive empowerment discourse is
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the undermining, silencing, and downplaying of athlete resistance. This reaction to
resistance is not surprising given the marginalization of athletes’ stories in general. It is
also not surprising given that actual resistance throws discourses of Paralympic passivity
and expert benevolence radically into question. This becomes evident when athletes, or
others experiencing disabilities, unite and resist within the Paralympic Movement. In
these cases, Paralympic histories do not represent those resisting as empowered,
knowledgeable, and experienced subjects with legitimate or important critiques. Instead,
both Athlete first and Paralympics represent them as misguided, ignorant dissenters who
pose a threat to the Movement and to themselves. This attitude is illustrated by Bailey’s
(2008) following argument: “the extent of negativity existing within the community of
persons with disability was ironic, and also a factor in slowing the initial development of
the Paralympic Movement” (12). Bailey construes the disability communities’ objections
to the Paralympic Movement as ironic because he presumes that athletes were foolishly
acting against their own best interest: that they were acting against those more
knowledgeable experts who were empowering them, despite themselves. In this way,
Bailey dismisses the legitimacy and productivity of athlete resistance by representing it as
ironic negativity that is counterproductive to the cause of athlete empowerment.
Similar themes are apparent in Bailey’s narrative about the 1992 Korean boccia
team. During the medal ceremony, the team members threw their bronze medals to the
ground to protest a new “sport-specific rule” (Bailey 2008, 127). Bailey recounts, in
detail, the agitated deliberations that purportedly led to the Paralympic executive
committee’s decision to ban these athletes for their entire lives (as compared to the four
year ban issued for a positive steroid test that same week). He then recounts how the ban
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was eventually lifted due largely to arguments that it was not “humane” to ban athletes
who were so “severely disabled” (Bailey 2008, 127). Bailey’s narrative shows how the
Paralympic experts explicitly set out to undermine resistance through extreme sanctions,
and then implicitly undermined athlete power through discourses of tragic disability.
What Bailey predictably omits in his detailed, half-page retelling of this story, however,
are: the athletes names; details about what it was that they were protesting; their goals for
protest; why they had to resort to protest; their reactions to the sanctions; and whether the
protest was regarded by the protestors as successful. Bailey undermines the legitimacy of
this resistance by omitting the stories of those resisting, and by superseding the story of
resistance by the story of expert sanctions.
My final example of the undermining of athlete resistance is Steadward and
Petersons’s (1997) celebration of how Steadward “narrowly averted” a potential
catastrophe during his reign as the President of the International Paralympic Committee
(Steadward and Peterson 1997, 86). The event occurred at the end of the 1996 Atlanta
Paralympic Games, where a large number of athletes were preparing a peaceful protest in
regards to their second-class treatment at the games. Steadward (2007) recalls:
the athletes were so angry with regard to the village: the lack of bedding,
the dirty accommodations, food lineups or no food … that they were going
to hold a protest at closing ceremonies. This would have been quite a
spectacle and public embarrassment for the host committee. I only found
out about the protest 20 minutes before I was going down to make a
speech at the Closing Ceremonies. I had people go down onto the field and
bring back to me the athletes who were leading this protest (86).
Having used his authority to successfully undermine the protest, Steadward further
disempowered the athlete-leaders by reminding them of their marginal role within the
Movement: “you have provided great entertainment and some great thrills for us; let’s not
spoil it and put a black mark against yourselves in these Games” (Steadward and Peterson
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1997, 86). In one succinct phrase, Steadward manages to construct these leaders as mere
objects of entertainment, while threatening them with the consequences of further
resistance. As the historians retelling this story, Steadward and Peterson further
undermine the resistance effort by presenting it as an unequivocal victory, wherein the
authoritative expert managed to save the Movement from embarrassment, and the
misguided athletes from themselves.
These stories demonstrate how resistance is undermined, in Paralympic histories,
through omission, and through collusion with discourses of disabled tragedy,
Paralympian passivity, expert primacy, and athlete empowerment. These stories also
showcase how these very same discourses justify the authoritarian and paternalistic
actions of Paralympic experts in undermining athlete resistance. This brings us to the fifth
disempowering element of empowerment discourses: its function of justifying the
increasingly numerous and invasive technologies of power being exercised over the
images, bodies, careers and consciences of Paralympians.
Almost all athletes are subjected to a battery of disciplinary technologies. These
include conditional playing time, team selection, training systems of punishment and
reward, and disciplinary decisions by both game officials and sport administrators
(Markula and Pringle 2006; Shogan 1999). Not only are athletes in disability sport
subjected to these disciplinary technologies, they are also often subjected to the
following: disability-based labeling; the enforcement of disability-based role
expectations; discretionary assigning of necessary and expensive equipment; induced
participation in the coach’s or administrator’s academic research on disability; and, most
notably, classification (Howe 2008; Williams 1994).
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Classification is one of the earliest and most binding forms of authority to which
aspiring Paralympians must submit themselves. Classification is a process whereby
experts determine the level of an athlete’s (dis)function and thereby assign him/her
permanently to an appropriate category of competition, assuming an appropriate category
exists (DePauw and Gavron 2005; Nixon 1984). Various (mostly able-bodied) experts
create, modify and eliminate these categories based on their ideas about fairness, about
what is disabled enough, and about what will improve the efficiency, economic viability
or entertainment value of the games (Howe 2008; Howe and Jones 2006; Rayes 2000).
These subjective deliberations create objectified categories of disability, and objectify the
individuals that they classify as having such disabilities. These deliberations may also
have other significant consequences to which athletes have no recourse, such as: placing
athletes in categories where they are not competitive; deeming an athlete too able to
compete; discontinuing an event for an entire classification of athletes because they are
not seen as competitive; or submitting athletes to conditions in which they feel that they
must under-perform in order to continue competing.
2
As athletes move toward more elite levels of participation, one might expect that
their increased ‘empowerment’ would lead to increased autonomy over their bodies and
their sports. To the contrary, elite Paralympians are increasingly subjected to surveillance
and potential sanctions in order to both maximize their empowerment and to protect them
(and other athletes) from the dangerous consequences of this empowerment. A prime
2
Many have accused athletes of purposely under-performing in order to be classified into a category that
gives them a competitive advantage (or that allows them to compete at all) (Bailey 2008; Steadward and
Peterson 1997). They may also under-perform in order to keep races (or games) close. Events won by large
margins, especially in competitions involving women and those deemed to have more severe disabilities,
are considered non-competitive, and by extension, neither elite nor entertaining. Dominating wins,
therefore, are often rewarded with the cancellation of the event in question, with little chance of it ever
reappearing (Howe 2008; Howe and Jones 2006; Rayes 2000).
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example of this logic is the 1993 International Paralympic medical sub-committee’s
argument for increased powers of surveillance and sanctioning. Due to increases in the
elitism and commitment of Paralympians, they argued, “most athletes… would
jeopardize their present and future health for victory. It is our duty, therefore, to protect
them from themselves” (156). Arguments like these have lead to the compulsory
submission of all aspiring Paralympians to the World Anti-doping Agency’s systematized
and institutionalized surveillance of their urine, blood and daily whereabouts (Beaver
2001; Black 2001; Bailey 2008; World Anti-Doping Agency 2003). This surveillance
occurs both in and out of competition, and concerns not only substances and practices
deemed to be performance enhancing, but also “social drugs” (Bailey 2008, 213). In this
way, the authority of experts and their technologies of surveillance have moved further
and further from the playing field, increasingly invading the bodies, consciences, and
daily lives of Paralympians.
Coaches and National Sports Organizations have also increasingly deployed
invasive technologies of surveillance on their athletes, such as: detailed training logs; diet
and sleep journals; compulsory assessments by team psychologists, doctors, nutritionists
and physiotherapists; and compulsory, or strongly coerced, blood and urine tests (Howe
2008; Shogan 1999). National sporting organizations, in Canada at least, secure access to
many of these systems of surveillance by making their athletes sign non-negotiated,
legally binding athlete agreements (Kidd 1988; Shogan 1999). These agreements also
often serve to secure the ownership of athlete images, the control over athlete sponsorship
affiliations, and the power to withhold all training, competition and funding opportunities
if the athlete attempts to resist any of the above.
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Many of the technologies outlined above are not unique to Paralympic sport.
Countless sport sociologists, sport historians and athlete activists have documented and
theorized both the powers exercised over athletes, and the athletes’ struggles to resist
those powers (ex. Bridel and Rail 2007; Broad 2001; Cochrane, Hoffman, and Kincaid
1977; Kidd 2005; Shogan 1999; Theberge 1998). The Paralympic Movement, however, is
largely sheltered from such critiques, or at the very least, it is sheltered from the public
and academic dissemination of such critiques. The reproduction of those with disabilities
as unequivocally tragic and passive, and the reproduction of the Movement as
unequivocally benevolent and empowering, ensures that these critiques are easily
suppressed.
Coming of age: Taking (away) responsibility
Athlete first closes with the following assertion: “the Paralympic Movement has
come of age; now a mature adult accepting responsibility for those in need of support and
their own empowerment” (Bailey 2008, 263). This claim is not intelligible without
discourses of tragic origins and progressive empowerment. Challenging these discourses,
as I have done above, unravels the series of assumptions upon which the histories rest. It
opens up space from which we can begin to ask the following kinds of questions. What
responsibilities has the Paralympic Movement accepted? Who gave the Movement these
responsibilities, and from whom were these responsibilities taken? And to whom are we
referring when we speak of the Paralympic Movement? If, as my analysis suggests, the
Paralympic Movement refers to the Paralympic experts and not to the athletes, then what
responsibility do Paralympians have? What must Paralympians do in order to support
19
and empower the progressive empowerment discourses of the Paralympic Movement? As
I suggest above, to make these histories coherent, Paralympians must be seen in photos,
but not heard in histories. They must be visibly maimed, but must never be named. They
must sit tall on their pedestal and point, passively and anonymously, towards the gutter
from which they came.
In saying this, I do not mean to silence athletes even more. I know that many
athletes thrive through sport. I know that they build communities and resistances. I know
that they actively organize, disorganize, invent and pervert the sports that they play. I
know that these athletes have names, and that they have stories that neither originate in
disability nor terminate with their sporting careers. I know this because of the stories that
athletes tell each other. We tell each other stories that help us remember the historically
irrelevant. We tell stories that help us resist the institutionalized silences. We also tell
stories, however, that help us raise ourselves above others: stories that reproduce the
pedestals from which we speak, and the gutters on which these pedestals are built.
Because I have heard these stories, and because I have heard myself telling these stories,
I know that resistance must be more than pointing accusing fingers at the institutions, and
institutionalized histories, of the Paralympic Movement. I know that the seeds of
resistance are also embedded in every story that I tell about myself, and to myself.
Resistance means giving up the heroism of the pedestal in order to debunk the myth of
the tragic gutter. It means meeting the eyes of those I have put in the gutter, and those
who have put me on the pedestal. It means telling different stories: the stories that might
not sell, and the stories that will likely be omitted from the history books - until we write
our own.
20
21
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... These perspectives promote the human-interest story (i.e. pity) over athletic achievement, which is belittled and trivialised (Peers 2009). As such, high performance disability sport can reinforce the distinction between 'supercrip' bodies versus highly impaired 1 bodies (Apelmo 2017), and marginalise knowledge about the types and patterns of support required for highly impaired athletes to compete and perform at this level. ...
... Researchers discuss how disability studies and the sociology of sport have developed in 'relative isolation' (Moola and Norman 2012), as such the experiences of disabled athletes have not been brought to light (Peers 2009(Peers , 2012Smith and Sparkes 2005). Responding to this call, the autoethnographic vignettes centre on the daily experiences of training and competition of a low classification swimmer aiming for Paralympic selection. ...
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In this article we combine the fields of critical disability studies and the sociology of sport to disrupt and extend current understandings of athlete welfare and care. A focus on athlete welfare is producing heightened awareness of the need for institutional, structural and personal support for athletes. Notions of 'care' are proliferating in sport discourse, with sport organisations routinely described as having a 'duty of care' towards athletes. In high performance disability sport, however, the provision and arrangement of care is often based on a view of the disabled athlete as high functioning, autonomous and independent. This perspective is further complicated when considering the provision of care for people with high support needs. Drawing on cripistemology, we argue that a politics of knowledge confirms a certain squeamishness around care practices and care knowledge in disability sport. One of us-a high performance, highly impaired athlete in Aotearoa New Zealand, offers an autoethnographic account of her experiences of training and competing, illustrating the embodied and intimate care needed for her continued engagement in high performance sporting practices. In keeping with wider calls in critical disability studies to bring the study of the body and therefore impairment back into disability discourse, we offer this personal narrative to 'crip' care knowledge, focusing on the materiality of bodies as they intersect with sport. Finally, we argue that sport scholars, practitioners and governing bodies must consider the embodied care politics of disabled athletes in order to deepen understandings of impairment, inequalities, and social inclusion.
... Ces pratiques sportives sont devenues, au 21 ème siècle, un espace de mise en scène privilégié de ces corps hybrides, dans un contexte idéologique technologiste, voire post-humaniste qui valorise ces corps appareillés jusqu'à en faire un emblème de cette idéologie. Si, comme l'expliquent Howe (2011), Howe et Silva (2017) et Peers (2009), au sein des pratiques paralympique, tous les corps ne se valent pas, ceux qui présentent le degré le plus abouti d'hybridation biotechnologique deviennent les emblèmes du dépassement de notre condition humaine (Richard, 2017) ; le cas de Pistorius, largement étudié 37 , ou encore des participant·es aux Cybathlon (Paccaud, Richard, & Marcellini, 2020a ;Richard, 2016 ;Richard & Andrieu, 2019) en sont des exemples. ...
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Thèse de doctorat soutenue à l'Université de Lausanne, Faculté des Sciences sociales et politiques. Membres du Jury de thèse: Pr Nicky Le Feuvre, Pr Anne Marcellini, Pr Sébastien Chauvin, MA Elena Pont, MCF HDR Sylvain Ferez, Pr Christine Détrez Résumé: Ce travail s’intéresse aux usages des pratiques sportives dans les vies des personnes ayant des déficiences et in/capacités physiques « sévères ». Plus précisément, cette recherche analyse les expériences que font ces personnes dans le cadre du powerchair hockey (unihockey en fauteuil électrique) afin de comprendre comment l’engagement dans une pratique sportive collective en fauteuil électrique forme et transforme leurs parcours de vie. L’enquête s’appuie sur une ethnographie multisituée du powerchair hockey en Suisse francophone et germanophone. Différents outils ont été mobilisés pour le recueil des données ; observations participantes – entretiens de type « récit de vie » – entretiens par photo-elicitation – recherche et consultation d’archives. Les résultats montrent que le powerchair hockey est le seul sport collectif structuré à l’échelle nationale qui est accessible aux utilisateur·trices de fauteuil électrique. Une majorité des joueur·euses vivent avec une maladie neuromusculaire évolutive. Le powerchair hockey est un espace social qui se situe à l’intersection de deux mondes sociaux dont il conjugue les idiomes de participation : « le monde des valides » et « le monde du handicap ». Cet espace permet ainsi aux insiders et outsiders respectif·ves de ces deux mondes de se rencontrer et de faire communauté. Faire carrière dans un sport collectif en fauteuil électrique forme et transforme les parcours de vie des personnes ayant des déficiences et in/capacités physiques « sévères » en produisant les conditions pour : (1) une circulation facilitée entre le « monde des valides » et le « monde du handicap » ; (2) une socialisation de conversion vers « l’handi-capabilité » ; (3) l’incorporation d’une disposition à la mobilité ; (4) la diversification des sphères de vie et des réseaux d’interdépendances ; (5) une inscription dans une histoire collective par la transmission d’un héritage aux plus jeunes de leurs pair·es. Ainsi, faire carrière dans un sport collectif en fauteuil électrique apparait comme une bifurcation par rapport au parcours de vie initialement prévu par les médecins et l’Assurance invalidité : une sortie des rôles sociaux de « malade » ou d’« invalide » auxquels ils·elles sont assigné·es, pour une revendication de l’identité sportive. L’engagement sportif se révèle donc comme une modalité d’émancipation à l’égard de scripts sociaux surdéterminés par la gestion institutionnelle qui est faite des destins biologiques des personnes qui vivent avec des déficiences et in/capacités physiques dites « sévères ». Abstract: This research focuses on sport practices in the lives of people with “severe” physical dis/abilities. More specifically, this study analyses the commitment to a powerchair hockey career, by both men and women, in order to determine how participation in collective sport practice forms and transforms their life paths. The study is based on a multi-sited ethnography of powerchair hockey in French- and German-speaking Switzerland. Different tools have been used to collect data: participant observation, life narrative interviews, photo-elicitation interviews, and archival research and consultation. Results show that powerchair hockey is the only team sport organized on a national scale available to powerchair users. A majority of players live with a progressive neuromuscular disease. Powerchair hockey is a social arena located at the intersection of two social worlds: the “able-bodied world” and the “world of dis/ability”. It combines the principles of participation in these two social worlds, thus allowing the insiders and outsiders of these two worlds to meet and form a community. Commitment to a powerchair hockey career forms and transforms the life paths of people with “severe” physical dis/abilities by providing the conditions for: (1) facilitated movement between the “able-bodied world” and the “world of dis/ability”; (2) the learning of “handicapabilities”; (3) the embodiment of a disposition to mobility; (4) a diversification of spheres of life and networks of interdependence; and (5) joining in a collective history through transmission of a legacy to younger peers. By playing powerchair hockey, athletes distance themselves from the social roles of “disabled people” to which they were assigned prior to a sporting career. At the same time, they perform the social identity of the supercrip athlete. Thus, commitment to sport constitutes a shift away from the life path initially prescribed by doctors and the Swiss Disability Insurance program. Commitment to sport may be considered a form of emancipation from social scripts overdetermined by institutional management of the biological destinies of people living with so-called “severe” physical dis/abilities.
... I recorded the interviews with the athletes' consent, transcribed them in Portuguese, and translated the selected passages to English. With their permission, I refer to the interviewed by their first names to address the issue of anonymity and the hypervisibility of disability that Peers (2009) claimed often surrounds their identities and accomplishments. ...
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In this article, I draw on the personal narratives of 41 Brazilian Paralympic athletes who competed in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games to explore their multiple identities shaped within and outside sport and how they negotiated those self-representations. Parathletes’ narratives gave a sense of who they are, how they live their lives, and what their struggles, hopes, and aspirations are within and outside sport. The available studies in disability sport and the representation of disabled athletes have largely failed to examine the stories of these individuals and address their unique realities and perspectives. Five major themes emerged from the interview analysis regarding the parathletes’ self-representation: athletic identity, gender identity, disability identity, national identity, and activist identity. These accounts also revealed how these individuals negotiated their multiple identities in different settings and the tensions they experienced in their social interactions. The Rio Paralympics presented such a new interaction setting for the Brazilian parathletes who competed on such a grand scale at home for the first time and provided multiple examples in the athletes’ accounts of their identities.
... When describing Jones and Leach's actions, this article follows Peers's prescription to include 'the athletes' names … details of what it was that they were protesting about; the goals of their protest; why they had to resort to protest; their reactions to the sanctions; [and] whether the protest was regarded by the protesters as successful'. 10 Beginning with a brief history of the Paralympic Movement and the ISMGF's ideology of inclusion that contributed to its defiance of the sport boycott of apartheid South Africa, this article then explores the controversial lifetime ban of Maggy Jones, before considering Bernard Leach's withdrawal from the 1981 games. The final section details how politicians and reporters recast the resistance of the protesting athletes by perpetuating stereotypes of people with disabilities. ...
Article
In October 1979, the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation (ISMGF) imposed a lifetime ban on Maggy Jones, a medal-winning British Paralympian. Her crime: distributing leaflets about the healthcare disparities in apartheid South Africa. Two years later, Bernard Leach, the British record holder in the freestyle swim, withdrew from the International Stoke Mandeville Games in protest when he learned that South Africa planned to send a team. ISMGF administrators took a softer line towards Leach, however, because the swimmer partnered with the British Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) to transform his withdrawal into a public relations weapon against Paralympic administrators. In recent years, historians have expanded our knowledge of the external struggle against apartheid, one of the most sustained and significant transnational movements of the twentieth century. This struggle, a notable antecedent of the Black Lives Matter movement, played out in all realms of sport, yet little has been written about campaigns of anti-apartheid solidarity within the Paralympic movement. This study of Paralympic protests and the politics of public critique adds to this literature, centres athlete agency in British disability sport, and offers an important perspective on sport, race, and protest to better understand the Black Lives Matter movement.
... [109][110][111][112][113][114] However, the media's framing of disability sport narratives is frequently criticised for perpetuating disability stereotypes: for instance, by portraying athletes with disabilities as superhuman, or disability as a tragedy that must be overcome. [115][116][117][118] Regarding inclusion, investments in major sporting events often improve the physical and social accessibility of physical activity facilities and venues to PLWD. 119 Yet, unfortunately, these benefits are poorly distributed and do little to address the long-term systemic barriers faced by PLWD, particularly among non-host LMICs, which are often the focus of international physical activity policy goals. ...
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Approximately 1·5 billion people worldwide live with a physical, mental, sensory, or intellectual disability, about 80% of which are in low-income and middle-income countries. This Series paper provides a global overview of the prevalence, benefits, and promotion policies for physical activity for people living with disabilities (PLWD). PLWD are 16–62% less likely to meet physical activity guidelines and are at higher risk of serious health problems related to inactivity than people without disabilities. Meta-analyses have shown that physical activity has beneficial effects on cardiovascular fitness (average standardised mean difference [SMD] 0·69 [95% CI 0·31–1·01]), musculoskeletal fitness (0·59 [0·31–0·87]), cardiometabolic risk factors (0·39 [0·04–0·75]), and brain and mental health outcomes (0·47 [0·21–0·73]). These meta-analyses also show that health benefits can be achieved even with less than 150 min of physical activity per week, and suggest that some physical activity is better than none. Meta-analyses of interventions to increase physical activity for PLWD have reported effect sizes ranging from SMD 0·29 (95% CI 0·17–0·41, k=10) to 1·00 (0·46–1·53, k=10). There is increasing awareness among policy makers of the needs of PLWD for full participation in physical activity. Physical activity action plans worldwide must be adequately resourced, monitored, and enforced to truly advance the fundamental rights of PLWD to fully participate in physical activity.
... Sağlam ve engelli sporcular arasında algılanan bu fark, birçok görüşmeci tarafından Paralimpik spora dahil olmanın anahtar bir nedeni olarak tanımlanmıştır (Purdue & Howe, 2012) Paralimpik Hareket'in itibarı ve tanıtım kampanyaları, büyük ölçüde engelli kişileri güçlendirme rolünde önemli yer almaktadır. Paralimpik hareketin öncesinde, bu hareketin nasıl başladığı, nasıl ilerlediği ve bu ilerlemenin kime hizmet ettiği hakkındaki hikayelerle güvence altına alınarak ve günümüzde bu organizasyonlar yeniden düzenlenmiştir (Peers, 2009) Bu paralimpik hareket İkinci Dünya Savaşı'ndan kısa bir süre sonra İngiltere'de kurulan engelli eski askerler ve kadınlar için bir yarışma olarak küçük başlangıçlardan, Olimpiyat Oyunları ile bağlantılı olarak düzenlenen günümüz Uluslararası Yaz ve Kış Oyunları organizasyonuna kadar gelişimlerini göstermektedir. (Gold & Gold, 2007) 1932'de kurulan Golfçüler arasında bu ve benzeri diğer spor kulüpleri, II.Dünya Savaşı'ndan sonra engellilik sporunun daha da geliştirilmiş olduğu göstermektedir. ...
Article
The Paralympics is globally the largest and most significant sporting event that takes place for athletes with a disability. The 2020 Tokyo Games was heralded as significant in its extensive media coverage that served to promote the disability athletic movement, breaking all broadcasting viewing records from the number of broadcasters, viewers, and a number of events provided live. In the past, however, media reporting of the Paralympic Games has not been without controversy. Stereotypical representations of disability, for example, have often been cited). These involve representations such as framing disability as something to be overcome; where athletes ‘participate’ rather than ‘compete’; and for those with adaptive technology, being portrayed as ‘cyborgs’, rather than as competitive athletes. This article has been driven by the curiosity to determine if media depictions of Paralympic athletes have improved over time. We wished to explore the current representations of the print and television coverage in Australia of the 2020 Tokyo games. Our research found that media coverage did, for the most part, provide coverage of events where Paralympians were represented as athletes first and their disability second. Despite this positive outcome, stereotypes prevailed in both print and television reporting. These included minimalising a person's disability, often to the point of making the disability invisible; focussing on overcoming tragedy; using inspirational language to position athletes as advocates for the disability; the use of patronising language; and the positioning of athletes as needing to be grateful. We conclude that whilst the media in Australia has made significant steps towards representing Paralympians as elite athletes, continued attention and primary focus needs to be given to the athlete’s first narrative.
Article
Media coverage of the Paralympic Games can affect how athletes with impairment and disability sport are perceived by the public. Researchers investigating media representations of disability sport have focused on how Paralympic athletes and disability sport are represented by the media. Limited research, however, has examined how Paralympic athletes perceive these representations of themselves and the meanings they attribute to such representations. The purpose of this study was to examine how Paralympic athletes make meaning of discourses of disability within Paralympic coverage. This involved semi-structured photo-elicitation interviews with eight Canadian Paralympic athletes. A reflexive thematic analysis (RTA) was used to analyze the data utilizing Foucault’s notions of discourse, power, and technologies of the self. The findings demonstrate that Paralympic athletes made meaning of the discourses of disability within Paralympic media coverage by drawing on their lived and media experiences. Athletes with more media experience articulated problematizations of dominant discourses of disability in Paralympic media coverage and engagement in technologies of the self. Knowledge generated from this study offers media personnel an informed understanding of how Paralympic athletes understand representations of disability and disability sport. This knowledge may offer insight and inform future media approaches of disability sport and the Paralympic Games.
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Sağır sporları, sağır kişilerin öz kararlılık haklarını sağır sporları faaliyetlerine ilişkin organizasyon, rekabet ve sosyalleşme aracılığıyla kullandıkları sosyal kurumdur. Sağır bireylerin dünyanın her yerinde entelektüel açıdan daha alt seviyede, dilsel açıdan da yetersiz olduğu düşünülürken spor organizasyonları, sağırların bilinenden çok daha fazlasına sahip olduğunu göstermek için en iyi yanıt olmuştur. Devletlerin ve bireylerin sağır olimpiyatlar akımına katılması, ön yargıların hızının kesilmesini sağlamıştır. Tarihsel süreçte dünyada ve Türkiye’de, sağır sporunu iyileştirmeye yönelik yapılan girişimler sonucu ortaya çıkan gelişimin, sağır sporuna olan farkındalığı artıracağı düşünülmektedir. Bu sebeple araştırmada, Türkiye’de ve dünyada 1871 yılından günümüze kadar olan süreçte sağır sporu ve sağır olimpiyatlarındaki gelişmeler incelenmiş; önemli tarihsel olayların, bireylerin, grupların, kurumların, sosyal olayların ve politikaların bu bireylerin tanımlanmasını nasıl etkilediğini, sağır sporcuların olimpiyatlara katılım tablosu, ülke, kadın ve erkek sporcu sayısı, spor branşları, madalya sayısı ve derecelerinden yola çıkılarak, sağır sporlarının kronolojik gelişiminin ortaya konması amaçlanmıştır. Sağır Olimpiyatları ve sağır sporuyla ilgili bilimsel yayınlar ve istatistiksel veriler taranmış ve derlenmiştir. Sonuç olarak, devletlerin ve bireylerin Sağır Olimpiyatları akımına katılmasının, sağır bireylere karşı ön yargıların azalmasına neden olduğu ve sağır sporunun gelişmesi için oldukça önemli olduğu kanısına varılmıştır.
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Mixing rigorous social theory with concrete analysis, Reading and Writing Disability Differently unpacks the marginality of disabled people by addressing how the meaning of our bodily existence is configured in everyday literate society. Tanya Titchkosky begins by illustrating how news media and policy texts reveal dominant Western ways of constituting the meaning of people, and the meaning of problems, as they relate to our understandings of the embodied self. Her goal is to configure disability as something more than a problem, and beyond simply a positive or a negative, and to treat texts on disability as potential sites to examine neo-liberal culture. Titchkosky holds that through an exploration of the potential behind limited representations of disability, we can relate to disability as a meaningful form of resistance to the restricted normative order of contemporary embodiment. Incorporating a textual analysis of ordinary depictions of disability, this innovative study promises to represent embodied differences in new ways and alter our imaginative relations to the politics of the body.
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In recent years the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the institution responsible for the administration, organization, and management of the Paralympic Games, has reshaped the landscape of sport for the disabled. This article argues that the IPC has marginalized the practice community, notably the International Organizations of Sport for the Disabled. By wrestling away control of the classification systems developed by these organizations, the IPC has transformed them to such an extent that they fail to provide opportunities for equitable sporting practice and the result has been a threat to the ideology of Paralympism. We illustrate this by examining two classification systems that are currently used within Paralympic Sport: The integrated functional system employed in the sport of swimming and the disability-specific system used within athletics.
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Genealogy "opposes itself to the search for "origins"". "The development of humanity is a series of interpretations. The role of genealogy is to record its history: the history of morals, ideals, and metaphysical concepts, the history of the concept of liberty or the ascetic life". "Among the philosophers idiosyncrasies is a complete denial of the body". "Where religions once demanded the sacrifice of bodies, knowledge now calls for experimentation on ourselves, calls us to the sacrifice of the subject of knowledge. The desire for knowledge has been transformed among us into a passion which fears no sacrifice, which fears nothing but its own extinction. It may be that mankind will eventually perish from this passion for knowledge. If not through passion, than through weakness."
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Socially constructed ideals regarding gender, sexuality, and corporeality often work to constrain efforts by marginalized groups to claim subjectivity through participation in sport. Increased participation in sport by female athletes has generated increased attention by national and international sport media. Though this might be thought of as a positive consequence, some researchers find that mainstream media contribute to dominant ideologies that depict sport as primarily a male (and nondisabled) domain. The purpose of this paper is to explore, through the example of Paralympian Hope Lewellen, how a woman athlete with a disability may claim subjectivity through sport, thereby subverting stereotypic concepts of gender and disability. Further, we analyze how the sport media simultaneously works to repress Lewellen’s subversive potential by portraying her in stereotypical ableist ways.
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Despite the stigma usually attached to disabled people, and the attendant difficulty in picturing disabled people in “normal” societal roles interacting and competing with nondisabled people, a mandate for integrating disabled and nondisabled people in all areas of society has been thrust upon Americans during the past decade through judicial, legal, and social pressures and political action. This paper focuses on the appropriate integration of disabled and nondisabled people in sport. It considers some potentially salient personal attribute and background parameters (i.e., type and severity of disability and amount of sports background) and sports structure parameters (i.e., type of sport, amount of disability adaptation, and degree of competition) that could affect the extent to which integration efforts in sport result in genuine integration and a reduction in the stigmatization and handicapped minority status of disabled people. It is hoped that this paper, and the general hypotheses it proposes about appropriate integration, will serve to guide future research and informed action in program planning and implementation aimed at integrating disabled and nondisabled people in sport.
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This study explores the media-related attitudes and values of 10 male wheelchair athletes by soliciting their opinions and suggestions concerning disability sport print media. Using the "auto drive" technique for qualitative data collection, the analysis reveals four themes: (a) athletes are avid consumers of mainstream sport media; b) they use both mainstream and niche publications; (c) they do not want "courtesy coverage," but instead, coverage focusing on elite elements of their sports; (d) they are unsure of media obligation in the coverage of sports involving athletes with disabilities. While the scope of this investigation is limited to male wheelchair athletes, the themes can provide a basis for further analysis and study in the emerging area of sport media research as it relates to disability.
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Based on an ethnographic study of women's rugby in the U.S. in the early 1990s, this article suggests that women's participation in sport represents a type of resistance that can be understood as "queer" resistance, albeit a gendered one. The article argues that queer theories and politics of resistance offer a lens by which to explain how women who played rugby in the early 1990s subscribed not to a "female apologetic," but rather an unapologetic. The results show the unapologetic to be comprised of transgressing gender, destabilizing the heterosexual/homosexual binary, and "in your face" confrontations of stigma -all characteristics of queer resistance. Furthermore, the results illustrate that each aspect of unapologetic queer resistance in sport is gendered. The article concludes that both the female apologetic and the gendered unapologetic are types of resistance observable in sport and suggests that further research needs to examine the extent to which gendered queer resistances are new and the degree to which they are specific to the institution of sport.