10:00am-4:00pm Saturday 5th November 2011

Bramber House, University of Sussex, Falmer, BN1 9QU

FREE but advanced booking required. To book your place click here or alternatively email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 020 7387 0455.

Sport Cultures aims to raise awareness of innovative research and projects undertaken by anthropologists, historians and social scientists that illustrate the ways in which sport connects people globally and affects socioeconomic change. Through presentations, exhibitions and hands-on learning activities, the event will explore case studies analysing the meaning of sport within society focusing on the following themes: the body, identity and globalisation.

The event addresses questions such as: Why are certain sports marginalised in politics and the media and what implications does this have on participation? How do local communities use sports to serve their own political agendas? In what ways are the Paralympic Games challenging perceptions associated with disability and classifications of so-called ‘normal’ bodies?

Sport Cultures, explores the human and cultural side of sport and the relationship between global tournaments and their local manifestations. Participants will gain insight from a variety of pioneering research such as: the history and effects of grassroutes sport in Papua New Guinea; the politics of ‘parkour’ and its challenge to the use and meanings of public space; cyborg bodies and the Paralympics; and the role of British Asian sporting celebrities in re-creating notions of multiculturalism and diversity in British politics.


10:00am -10:30am        Registration

Upon registering, participants will have the opportunity to look at the exhibitions produced by the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI).


10:45am – 11:00am       Welcome and Introduction

RAI’s Education Officer Nafisa Fera will welcome participants and introduce the event. 

Dr. Jill Le Clair (Humber College Institute, Canada) will act as moderator for the day.


11:00am- 11:20am        Different Bodies – Shared Goals: Paralympians

Dr. Jill Le Clair (Humber College Institute, Canada)

There are many different bodies in the world and they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, heights and colours. Each society or culture has preferences for body shapes, and for physical activities. Sports, games and leisure are uniquely framed, and anthropology studies the ways people participate in these activities, and have fun.

Historically people with disabilities were often feared, discriminated against and excluded. In some countries there were even policies of extermination supported by the government and medical authorities. In 1948, the year of the London Olympic Games, a British neurosurgeon Dr. Ludwig Guttman introduced a competitive sport event for the socially isolated and severely wounded veterans in his care. He was convinced a positive focus on abilities would change their lives and lead to inclusion in the wider society, and this was the start of what we now call the Paralympic Games.

This talk discusses what we mean by the 'normal' body, the impact of having a body that is perceived as 'different' or disabled, and how bodies are typically seen in our society. It also presents a snapshot of the lives and thining of the elite athletes who are competitors in the Paralympic Games who train hard to be the best they can be.

11:20am-11:40am     The Paralympic Games: Building a new identity for the disabled.

Dr. Ian Brittain (University of Coventry)

When Ludwig Guttmann began the Stoke Mandeville Games (which went on to become the Paralympic Games) one of his key aims was to change the attitudes of non-disabled society with regard to the capabilities of people with disabilities. At that time these attitudes were extremely negative, but since then disability sport and the Paralympic Games in particular have helped change the collective identity, and in many cases the individual self-identity, of people with disabilities to a more positive one. The aim of this presentation is to highlight the role that disability sport and the Paralympic Games have played in this process.

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11:50am – 12:10pm    Run and Become: running, morality and selfhood

Dr. Jon Mitchell (University of Sussex)

This talk will present some of the findings of a research project on the inaugural Brighton Marathon in April 2010. The project focused on the motivation needed to train and run the marathon, and the processes of transformation that runners go through as they do so. The presentation will focus on issues of morality, and particularly the moral impetus to run for charity, and selfhood: how are people’s sense of self changed by running, and is running a selfish act? The project culminated in an exhibition, a film and book; all of which will be exhibited at the Sport Cultures event.




12:10pm- 12:30pm          Sporting celebrity after the ‘crisis’(?) of multiculturalism

Dr. Daniel Burdsey (Chelsea School, University of Brighton)

Over the last decade, multiculturalism has come under attack in the UK, from all sectors of the political spectrum. It has been rapidly replaced in political circles by the (arguably nebulous) concept of diversity. Broadly speaking, New Labour and coalition governments can be characterised as possessing a common approach to ethnic diversity: namely that some forms of diversity are more desirable than others; and that manifestations of diversity are acceptable as long as they are articulated in conjunction with a publicly pronounced commitment to certain state-prescribed ‘shared’ values. This presentation argues that sport plays an important role in this process of diversity management. Focusing on particular British Asian sporting celebrities, the talk demonstrates that the criteria on which they are ascribed role model status by politicians, and the ways in which they are represented by the mass media, are strongly underpinned by dominant approaches to establishing who "belongs" in twenty-first century Britain and who does not.


12:30pm- 12:50pm        Q & A session

Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions to the morning speakers.

12:50pm- 1:50pm      Lunch Break

Participants will have the opportunity to take part in the interactive exhibitions and hands-on learning activities. Lunch can be purchased in Bramber House or from other cafes on campus.

1:50pm- 2:10pm  What does it mean to play football? The ‘world game’ on a Papuan island

Dr. William Rollason (Brunel University)

Football is the quintessential ‘world game’. It is played all over the world, and seems to have the capacity to bridge differences between cultures, rich and poor, black and white. But to what extent do we really share football – and is it always a liberating experience? When Panapompom people from Papua New Guinea play football they learn that they are poor, black and worthless. Why does football have such unexpected effects for them? What does this tell us about the globalised world in which we live?



2:10pm- 2:30pm        Playing Ball With The Nation: Sport, Ritual and Politics in Amazonia

Dr. Harry Walker (London School of Economics)

How should we understand the extraordinary popularity of football today among native Amazonians? What is its connection to traditional forms of play, ritual, and warfare? In this talk I examine the relatively recent uptake of football by the Urarina people of the Peruvian Amazon, in relation to a rapidly changing political landscape. I argue that football helps people to imagine a new kind of social order in which ideas of playing ‘roles’ and obeying ‘rules’ are especially prominent. Partly for this reason, sport is central to the process by which the State expands its territory and influence. Like war, it harnesses the energy and vitality of youth in a way that assists their co-option by powerful vested interests. 



2:30pm – 2:50pm        6AM, 365 Days a Year

Paul Farrington (Freelance Artist, Graphic Designer)

I am a member of the Brighton Swimming Club (BSC) and swim in the sea every day, all year round. I enjoy daily conversations with members of the BSC who share their amazing life stories related to their families, Brighton, the sea and the Club. One discussion led me to discover an archive which had been donated to the Brighton Museum in 1995- an archive which had remained unseen, unused and inaccessible for 16 years. In March 2010, I viewed this archive, and felt that it needed to be made public in order to increase public awareness of the history of sea bathing in Brighton, and its documentation of the city’s cultural and sport heritage. In collaboration with the BSC I was able to receive funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to create the Floating Memories project. This project focuses on over 150 years of the sporting and sea bathing heritage of BSC, and its past and present influence on Brighton and Hove. This presentation will explore the development of the Floating Memories project, its aims and impact on individuals living in Sussex and beyond.

-----------------------------10 Minute Break ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

3:00pm- 3:20pm        The Emergence of Parkour in the UK: transnational sport/local cultures

Dr. Paul Gilchrist (Chelsea School, University of Brighton)

This talk will cut through the sensationalist media depiction of parkour as a ‘cool’ urban sport for hedonistic muscular supermen, to examine its emergence in towns and cities across the UK. As a new ‘lifestyle sport’ parkour has been met with intense interest from the creative and media industries and is rapidly becoming the physical activity of choice for many young people. But why has there been such a positive reaction to the development of parkour in the UK? What excites communities to get involved, learn the moves and promote its uptake? This presentation will interrogate the social and political reasons why public authorities and agencies are so keen to support the development of this transnational sporting phenomenon.



3:20pm- 3:40pm The Creation of a Ciné Parkour

Dr. Julie Angel (Freelance Film maker)

In 2004 Julie began her research and film adventures into parkour. Her aim was to understand, document and represent the everyday practices of an activity that by its nature was at times spectacular. With anthropological intentions and an interest in shared cinemas, participant observation and activism she began a feedback loop of production, gradually working towards the creation of a ‘Ciné Parkour’ - parkour led films as opposed to films about parkour. By entering into the flow state of filmmaking and mirroring the enthusiasm witnessed in front of the camera, a diverse body of work in style and form was created. The resulting films range from quiet observational pieces to montages and first person POV, reflecting parkour as a multi-dimensional phenomenon. Parkour transforms how one experiences, moves, connects and participates in the environment, challenging notions of normative behaviour, socialisation, identity and self-determining actions through explorations of, as well as expressions of the self. The results of which are a means to find a more authentic deeper inner sense of self, producing feelings of inclusion and an enhanced sense of freedom through the creation of an autonomous social body. Parkour encourages self-reliance and mutual co-operation whilst enabling participants to reclaim the wonderment and magic of the human experience, valuing confrontations of fear, pleasure and pain in transcending the real and imagined boundaries of one’s own limitations, play and freedom of expression.

3:40pm- 4:00pm    Q & A session

Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions to the afternoon speakers.

4:00pm- 4:10pm    Conclusion

Final remarks and thanks given by Nafisa Fera


Global Games Trivia - Test your knowledge of international tournaments such as: The Olympics, Paralympics, Gay Games and Commonwealth Games and become your local pub quiz hero!

The RAI’s 20th Century Exploration of Sports, Games and Play - An exhibition of  20th Century photographs from the RAI's international archival collection.




Sportacular - Have you ever heard of bog snorkeling or rollapaluza? Find out about intriguing little-known sports around the globe.

Going Global - An exhibition demonstrating the proliferation of the world´s most popular sports.





Blast from the Past - Early submissions from our Oral Histories Project will be exhibited.





The RAI's Anthropology of Sport Photo Contest- A selection of short-listed entries from our international photo contest will be exhibited. To view all short-listed submissions visit our website: www.flickr.com/photos/raieducation

Run and Become Exhibition - An exhibition based on the Run and Become project, a Creative Campus Initiative from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Sussex.


Floating Memories Display- An exhibition which explores the cultural heritage of the Brighton Swimming Club based on the Floating Memories project (http://www.floatingmemories.co.uk/)







Free but booking required. To book your place click here, or alternatively email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 020 7387 0455.



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