We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Masculinities in Martial Sports: West, East and Global South - Reading Group

22nd November 2018, 11:00 to 12:30, Room 111, Department of History, North Bailey

Reading and discussion group on Gender and Masculinities with Project Fellows and PIs

Commencing Thursday 11 October and each Thursday until Thursday 29 November, 11.00-12.30pm, Department of History, Room 111.

7. Sport spaces

Gaffney, C. and Bale, J. (2004) ‘Sensing the stadium’, in Vertinsky, P. A. and Bale, J. (eds) Sites of sport: space, place, experience. London: Frank Cass, pp. 25–38.

Eichberg, H. (1998) ‘The enclosure of the body: the historical relativity of “health”, “nature” and the environment of sport’, in Philo, C. and Bale, J. (eds) Henning Eichberg, Body Cultures: Essays on Sport, Space and Identity. London: Routledge, pp. 45–67.

Matthews, C. R. (2016) ‘The Tyranny of the Male Preserve’, Gender & Society, 30(2), pp. 312–333. doi: 10.1177/0891243215620557.

This is open to Durham academic staff and PGRs by invitation upon expression of interest.
Contact Professor Kay Schiller or Dr Lynda Boothroyd.

This IAS-sponsored interdisciplinary project during Michaelmas 2018/19 will focus on the construction of masculinities and gender identities through martial sports across the globe. Martial sports/arts were chosen because they have been historically and culturally defined as ‘masculine’ and have been arenas through which male-male competition has been formalised. The mechanisms of sex and gender construction, inclusion and exclusion on the basis of sex and gender therefore appear to be relatively obvious. Sports analysed in the project include western boxing, Japanese Aikido, Bushido, Brazilian Capoeira, Savate (French boxing), Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts.

The project is highly innovative in that it brings into fruitful dialogue theoretical frameworks from the arts and humanities and social sciences on the one hand and from the biological and experimental behavioural sciences on the other. It is rooted in both ‘cultural materialism’ (Williams) and biosocial and perceptual psychology. Examples for cultural materialist approaches discussed by the project are Raewyn Connell’s hegemonic and Judith Butler’s performed masculinities, feminist approaches to gender and masculinities, queer theory and inclusive masculinity approaches. These are compared and contrasted with biosocial theories from evolutionary developmental psychology and visual perception on the construction and perception of gender-typical behaviour and gender-appropriate appearance. The project aims to test grand theories of gender construction by looking very closely and in specific cases at the interplay of bodily practices and perceptions as determined by culture, rules and tradition, and biology.

In engaging with constructions and perceptions of sex and gender in the West, East Asia and the Global South through the interplay of the dominant, the residual and the emergent in martial arts by practitioners, spectators and multipliers, the project will pay particular attention to cross-cultural comparisons, while at the same time taking account of the homogenizing forces of globalization, adaptation to Western cultural models and resistance against them.

‘Masculinities in Martial Sports’ is based on the close collaboration of participants from the arts and humanities, natural sciences and social sciences from Durham, the UK and abroad. The project is led by Professor Kay Schiller (History) and Dr Lynda Boothroyd (Psychology) and involves two overseas academic Fellows resident in Durham: Dr Tamara Kohn (Anthropology, University of Melbourne) & Professor David Scott (Modern Literature, Trinity College Dublin).

This project offers a rich and diverse programme across the term Specific outputs from this project will include a special issue for Sport in History (2020), and a UKRC grant application (2019/20).

Contact; for more information about this event.