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Athletic Intruders

Ethnographic Research on Women, Culture, and Exercise

Anne Bolin

Publication Year: 2003

Informed by feminism and the fields of anthropology and sociology of sport, this anthology investigates women’s place in sport and exercise from a sociocultural perspective, documenting women’s struggle into the sports arenas of male hegemony. The nine ethnographic case studies explore issues of identity, embodiment, and meaning in various sports and exercise, including triathlons, aerobics, basketball, bodybuilding, weightlifting, motorcycle riding, softball, casual exercise, and rugby.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series on Sport, Culture, and Social Relations


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p. iii


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

We owe a great debt to those who have laid the groundwork for the study of the ethnography of sport and exercise. Most notable is Alan Klein, who may be credited with bringing to academic attention the field of sport ethnography...

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pp. 1-6

Athletic Intruders: Ethnographic Research on Women, Culture, and Exercise is an anthology edited by Anne Bolin, Professor of Anthropology at Elon University, and Jane Granskog, Professor of Anthropology at California State University at Bakersfield. The book investigates women’s place in sport and....

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1. Reflexive Ethnography, Women, and Sporting Activities

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pp. 7-25

The ethnographic studies of sports and exercise presented herein articulate the interrelationships of physical activity and issues of gender relations, asymmetrical ideologies of gender, and embodiment through a feminist and interpretive lens. They also illustrate the critical importance of mooring feminist research within the context of women’s bodily...

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2. Just “Tri” and “Du” It: The Variable Impact of Female Involvement in the Triathlon/Duathlon Sport Culture

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pp. 27-52

Since the late 1970s there has been a significant increase in the number of women participating in athletic activities. The focus of this chapter is on the process by which women become involved in fitness activities, specifically multi-sport participation in triathlons (swim/bike/run events) and duathlons...

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3. Postmodern Aerobics: Contradiction and Resistance

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pp. 53-78

I was first introduced to aerobics in 1987 when I arrived in the United States. My initial assignment as a University graduate assistant was to teach aerobics classes in the undergraduate physical activities program. Soon, I became an avid aerobicizer myself. Being interested in the latest knowledge about this exercise...

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4. Cultural Expressions of African American Female Athletes in Intercollegiate Sport

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pp. 79-106

Participation in intercollegiate sport can be a rewarding endeavor that provides skills and experiences that may benefit individuals throughout their lifetime. Despite the fact that institutions have demonstrated a commitment toward providing a quality experience for college athletes, trying to meet the needs...

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5. Beauty or the Beast: The Subversive Soma

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pp. 107-129

This chapter undertakes a textual analysis of Western women’s bodies that is politically engaged. The body as relation, as reflection, and as reform is articulated through the phenomenon of competitive women’s bodybuilding, which offers insight into the multivocality and contradiction embodied in the muscular soma....

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6. A Woman’s Place is in the . . . Cardiovascular Room?? Gender Relations, the Body, and the Gym

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pp. 131-158

After handing an I.D. card to a KCF fitness center employee, a short beep signals that I am allowed to push my way through a cold, metal turnstile that leads into a modern, spacious, well-lit fitness site. Off to the immediate right is a series of glass windows that allows viewing access into the weight room. Continuing just...

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7. Women Who Ride: The Bitch in the Back is Dead

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pp. 159-176

“My butt hurts. My butt really hurts. I’m not going to be able to walk or sit down.” Debby shouted this bit of information to me as we stopped for a red light on the way to Apple Jack’s Saloon. “My cunt hurts too.” I shouted back. “My cunt really hurts. I’m not going to be able to walk or sit down either. Hey Deb, how many men do you think ever get to say....

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8. “I Was There . . .”: Gendered Limitations, Expectations, and Strategic Assumptions in the World of Co-ed Softball

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pp. 177-199

At the start of the new millenium, gender relations are in a state of flux. Traditional discourses of gender difference still exist, but, increasingly, men and women are performing the same roles in public and private life. As noted by third wave feminists, this often leads to the paradoxical simultaneous promotion...

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9. Changing Body Aesthetics: Diet and Exercise Fads in a Newfoundland Outport Community

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pp. 201-226

An anthropological focus on the study of obesity shows that when it comes to health and illness the concept of being overweight is riddled with contradictions. At one time being overweight was a sign of affluence and high status, but it has more recently become a middle- and upper-class “disease” (Ritenbaugh 1982; Stunkard 1975). Yet today this so-called disease...

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10. Kicking Stereotypes into Touch: An Ethnographic Account of Women’s Rugby

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pp. 227-246

Confrontational contact within women’s sport has long been considered taboo. As women strive for empowerment, sport is one of the arenas that they are using to emancipate themselves through challenging the traditional masculine/feminine dichotomy, which has been associated with sport....

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AFTERWORD: Pastimes and Presentimes: Theoretical Issues in Research on Women in Action

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pp. 247-260

Susan J. Birrell (1988:450–502) and M. Ann Hall (1990:223–39; 1993:48–68; 1996), two of the leaders in the history of the study of sport research, present a thorough socio-historical overview of developments in the field. Taken together, their research spans the entire history of sport study, emphasizing four major cultural-historical periods, each...


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pp. 261-263


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pp. 265-292

List of Books in Series

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pp. 293-294

E-ISBN-13: 9780791487563
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791455838
Print-ISBN-10: 0791455831

Page Count: 302
Illustrations: 6 figures
Publication Year: 2003

Series Title: SUNY series on Sport, Culture, and Social Relations
Series Editor Byline: CL Cole See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 56406334
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Athletic Intruders


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Subject Headings

  • Sports for women -- Social aspects.
  • Feminist theory.
  • Body image in women -- Social aspects.
  • Physical education for women -- Social aspects.
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