In a 1983 special review issue of the Journal of Sport History, Editor Jack Berryman addressed recent trends and future directions of sport history. In his review of the field, he lamented that “despite the fact that sport has been embedded in, and contoured by, patriarchal relationships, we have still to see an adequate analysis of women and sport. Overall, sport history remains the history of man’s involvement in sport.”1 Since the mid 1980s, however, the historical analysis of women and gender in sport has undergone radical change, with feminist approaches making a valuable contribution to the discipline. Writing in The Field (2005) a little over two decades after Berryman’s comments, Douglas Booth acknowledged that “feminists have added to the common treasury of knowledge and interpretation in [sport history] to the extent that it is now virtually unthinkable to ignore women when analyzing sport.”2
Today, feminist sport historians do more than study women’s past involvement in sport and exercise. Feminist sport history is not simply about recovering forgotten stories of women’s sporting experiences (although this remains an important and valuable contribution), it is also about issues of power, gender, sexuality, and the lived experiences of female (and male) sporting bodies in past and present contexts. Building upon the rigorous and bold scholarship of feminist sport historians writing since the 1980s, contemporary scholars are also drawing inspiration from theoretical and methodological developments in the fields of history, gender studies, sociology, cultural studies, cultural geography, literature, education, and particularly sport sociology. Working within and across disciplines, they are asking new questions about women and men’s past and present sport and physical cultural understandings and experiences. In this forum we seek to unsettle assumptions [End Page 373] of what feminist sport history has been, currently is, and has the potential to become. We present feminist approaches to sport history as multiple and dynamic and point to a growing number of scholars developing innovative theoretical, methodological, and representational approaches toward the study of gendered moving bodies in historical and contemporary contexts.
Recent work by Alun Munslow and Elizabeth Grosz informed the editorial approach adopted in this special issue, prompting us to reconsider the possibilities for more reflexive, multi-vocal and ethically- and politically-inspired feminist sport histories.3 In The Future of History (2010), Alun Munslow encourages us to “leap ahead with optimism . . . into a post-epistemic age of ‘expressionist creativity.’”4 According to Munslow, reflexively embracing the role of the author-historian, we can produce more “expressionist understanding[s] of the absent past through history(ies) that confront the systems, structures and practices of history of a particular kind.”5 Such thinking echoes Elizabeth Grosz’s article entitled “Histories of a Feminist Future,” in which she suggests that such issues are particularly exacerbated for feminist historians, for whom history “involves the linking of the past and present to a possible future . . . a productive future, a future beyond patriarchy.”6 According to Grosz, “[T]ime, the very matter and substance of history, entails the continual elaboration of the new, the openness of things (including life, texts, or matter) to what befalls them . . . the indeterminate, the unfolding and emergence of the new.”7 Inspired by their evocative work, we draw from Munslow and Grosz to imagine the ethics, reflexivity, and responsibility of the feminist author-historian, and the potential of creative future-focused histories of sport and physical culture that may become “interventionist form[s] of cultural criticism.”8 This issue is the result of such imaginings.
In the first part of this forum we present five original papers that offer vivid examples of the multiple and varied ways feminist sports historians are studying the socio-cultural construction of gender and sexuality in sport and physical activity today. Each of the authors, in his or her own way, embraces the role of the author-historian to produce expressionist understandings of the gendered sporting past, with links to the present and possible futures. In the first paper, titled “The Power, Politics, and Potential of Feminist Sport History: A Multi-Generational Dialogue,” we locate the special issue within developments in women’s and...