FUEL AOTEAROA: Empowering athletic girls and women through education

Fuel Aotearoa–an educational website I have been working on with Maria Bentley–was finally launched last month. We were thrilled with the response. Despite leading with a somewhat sensationalist (and inaccurate headline), The New Zealand Herald story had the desired effect: Within hours of the story being published, we were inundated with emails from women–young and old–thanking us for this resource and sharing their own stories with us. Within 24 hours the website had received more than 2000 visitors from around the world, and we started to receive emails from parents, coaches, and health professionals thanking us for providing a resource that they can use with their daughters, athletes and patients. Given that Maria and I had spent hundreds of hours and our own money putting this website together, this response made all of our efforts worthwhile!

Building on the momentum of the launch, Maria and I are currently working with various media agents to help further spread the message and encourage girls and women to educate themselves about the importance of fueling their exercising bodies with good nutrition. We hope this website (and associated media projects) will help remove some of the stigma and social silencing about exercise-related amenorrhea and the risks of the Female Athlete Triad.

Check it out: www.fuelaotearoa.co.nz

Many thanks to our amazing design team–Edith and Timo–at www.dumpark.com. You guys are the best!

 

New Orleans, Fulbright Presentation, and Upcoming Events

It has been a busy few weeks here in Washington, D.C., and the next few weeks don’t look any quieter. Here is a short update of my latest academic adventures:

New Orleans November 7-10: North American Society for the Sociology of Sport conference

A very busy conference with lots of great sessions, interspersed with incredible food and music. Jose was the social co-ordinator, so we made sure to venture out to some authentic live music acts in the outer suburbs and near the French district.

Holly and Jose between conference sessions in NOLA

NOLA music culture

NOLA music culture

Live Jazz: Just the way to clear the head between conference sessions

Live Jazz: Just the way to clear the head between conference sessions

A personal highlight of the conference was the Physical Cultural Studies panel/debate on Friday morning (Nov 9). I was honored to be a member of the panel, alongside Belinda Wheaton (University of Brighton), David Andrews (University of Maryland), Richard Pringle (University of Auckland) and Michael Giardina (Florida State University). In my short(ish) paper, I tried to locate my own work at the intersection of three strands of PCS and advocated a contextual, reflexive, embodied and political feminist physical cultural studies. The panel was very well attended and generated lots of stimulating discussion. Thanks to Michael Friedman for organizing this panel, and for inviting me to contribute. I look forward to ongoing conversations!

As part of my recent project on sport in post-natural disaster spaces, I also conducted an interview with Joey and Ally–two of the original group to build the DIY Peach Orchard skatepark following Hurricane Katrina. Joey picked us up and took us to the new Parasite skatepark, where we discussed their aims, motivations, inspirations and struggles to gain credibility among local authorities. Joey, Ally and friends recently founded the non-profit Transitional Spaces with the aim to empower the community via the building of skateparks.

Ally, Joey and Holly at the DIY Parasite skatepark in NOLA

 

Post-NASSS: Fulbright presentation and a visit to PCS Journal Club

The week following NASSS was also action packed. I had class on Wednesday, then on Thursday (November 15) I had my Fulbright presentation: ‘The Role of Sport in Natural Disaster Recovery: The Case of Christchurch, New Zealand’. Thanks to all those that attended.

Fulbright presentation at Georgetown University

Then on Friday 16th I travelled out to University of Maryland for journal club. As always, a stimulating discussion with a great critical mass of graduate students and scholars. Special thanks to Prof. David Andrews for the invitation.

Upcoming events:

November 30: A Public Symposium: Sport and National Identity in a Global World at Georgetown University. We are going to be live streaming this event, and I plan to add a link on this website following the event.

December 3: I am very excited to be invited to present my work on sport in post-natural disaster spaces at the New Zealand Embassy in Washington, D.C.

December 10-13: I feel very honored to be invited to the Doha GOALS event in Qatar in a few weeks time. This event promises to be a very stimulating exchange of ideas and and a wonderful opportunity to make new connections and networks with the aim to create social change through sport in global and local contexts. I will post an update following this event.

 

Action sport NGOs

An article by Robert Rinehart and myself titled ‘Action Sport NGOs in a Neo-Liberal Context: The Cases of Skateistan and Surf Aid International’ is now available OnlineFirst in Journal of Sport and Social Issues.

Upcoming event: Sport and National Identity in a Global World Symposium

Partly inspired by the presentations of the students in my INAF-310 (Sport and National Identity) course at Georgetown University, I am organizing a symposium titled ‘Sport and National Identity in a Global World’ to be held from 10am-1pm on November 30.

Generously hosted by the Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies, the event will bring together students and Faculty from Georgetown University, the University of Maryland and across the district to engage in critical discussions about the complex relationships between sport and the nation in an increasingly global age. The symposium will feature 6-8 presentations from Georgetown University and University of Maryland students, each of whom will discuss the social significance of a particular sport, event, team and/or athlete, for a nation in a particular socio-cultural, political, economic and historical context. Students will be nominated by their Professors and/or classmates to present at this event. At the conclusion of the event, the expert judging panel will present awards to the ‘best undergraduate paper’, and ‘best graduate paper’.

The event is open to students and Faculty across Washington, D.C., who are interested in critically understanding sport in global and local contexts. RSVPs will be required.

More details will be available shortly, but please don’t hesitate to contact me (hthorpe@waikato.ac.nz) or Marie Champagne (mtc@georgetown.edu) if you have any questions.

Upcoming: Fulbright presentation

On November 15, I will be delivering my Fulbright Visiting Scholar presentation titled ‘The role of sport in natural disaster recover: The case of Christchurch, New Zealand’ at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. Click here to read more about this event.

Fulbright Event at Library of Congress

Last Saturday night (September 8), I attended the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding Award Ceremony at the Library of Congress. The event was honoring Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders. Not only did I hear more of the interesting and important work of this organization, but I also met a number of wonderful Fulbright alumni and current awardees. The Library of Congress is a beautiful building, and the skyscape was equally impressive.

Not a bad view...

Fulbright Ceremony at the beautiful Library of Congress

Hill sliding

My dad sent me this photo of my little brothers and friends in Gisborne. The boys had found a sign in the garage from a lecture I gave a few years ago and had taken to using it to slide down the grassy hill while being towed by the mower; a perfect example of youthful creativity and irony. Thanks Jack and George for never ceasing to remind me of the importance of play.

My brothers (and friends) displaying a keen sense of irony

Landed: Washington, D.C

A little over a week ago, Jose and I arrived in Washington, D.C. We are now settled into our lovely apartment in Columbia Heights and are enjoying navigating the city on our bikes and exploring the various neighborhoods. We have already been to a Nationals baseball game, and witnessed an amazing display of contemporary jazz (Christian Scott) at the Bohemian Caverns. The Georgetown University campus is slowly filling up with students returning from their summer break, and I am looking forward to teaching my course ‘Sport and National Identity’ in early September. The adventure has surely begun….

The gates to Georgetown University

Sport and National Identity course

Underexposed: Video about female skaters

For those interested in the struggles facing female skateboarders, check out this trailer for a great video ‘Underexposed’ produced by Amelia Brodka.

My thanks to Gav Key for alerting me to this video and the interview in Thrasher magazine with Amelia: http://vimeo.com/27874870

Fulbright Awards Ceremony

On June 27 I travelled (with Jose) to Wellington for the Fulbright awards ceremony held at the New Zealand Parliament. It was a lovely evening that really highlighted the incredible investment of Fulbright New Zealand to NZ-US exchange grantees, including graduate students, academics and artists. After drinks and canapes, then a series of short speeches, Hon Steven Joyce and Hon David Huebner (US Ambassador) presented 55 grantees with their awards. I was very honored to be part of this ceremony.

2012 Fulbright NZ-US Grantees and dignitaries: I'm 4th from the right bottom row

University of Waikato Fulbright grantees Holly Thorpe, Laura Vaioleti and Kenny Bell with a contingent of senior management staff from the university

Holly and Jose at the Beehive

Curl magazine: Using Sex to Sell

The latest issue of Curl (Winter, 2012)

You can read my full article titled ‘Using sex to sell (the soul) of snowboarding’ here. I hope this article raises important questions for Curl readers. In the same issue, I also have an interview with Peggy Oki.

My interview with Peggy Oki

Nice to be ‘home’: Sunset skate session

Jose skating the Raglan bowl. Photo: Holly. Composition: Jose.

For more images from this Saturday evening skate session and other such skate/surf/science adventures see Jose’s website.

New article in Sport, Education and Society (online first)

Conference Report: North American Society for Sport History

I have just returned from the 40th annual North American Society for Sport History conference held in Berkeley California (June 1-4). It was an excellent conference with a great keynote by Dr Murray Phillips, a number of high quality sessions, and some enjoyable social gatherings.

Our session–’Feminist Sport History in the Past, Present and Future’–was held at 8:30am on the first morning of the conference. Despite the less-than-ideal time slot, the session was well-attended and we received some really positive feedback from attendees. A special thanks to Dr Carly Adams for her wonderful commentary.

***

Feminist Sport History in the Past, Present and Future

Moderator: Carly Adams, University of Lethbridge

Holly Thorpe, University of Waikato, and Rebecca Olive, University of Queensland“A Multi-generational Dialogue on Feminist Sports History”

Megan L. Popovic, Humber College, “School Figures from Her rINK: The Practice of Autoethnography within Sport History”

Shellie I. McParland, University of Western Ontario, “The Gender Game: Rewriting the Rules of Basketball through Autoethnography”

Commentator: Carly Adams, University of Lethbridge

***

Later that day, I also offered a commentary in the session titled ‘The Wiki World of Sport History’ addressing three main points: 1) Electronic sources and the archiving of virtual artifacts, 2) Authorship, authority and interactivity, and 3) Network temporality and iTime. Later this month I will be working on a chapter for a book edited by Murray Phillips and Gary Osmond on sport history and the Internet, so this commentary was a great opportunity to really immerse myself in this interesting topic. Thanks to Gary for the invitation to participate in this excellent session.

***

The Wiki World of Sport History

Moderator: Russell Field, University of Manitoba

Mike Cronin, Boston College, “Social Networking in Researching Sport History”

Stephen Townsend and Gary Osmond, University of Queensland, “Sport History on Wikipedia: An Australian Evaluation”

Tara Magdalinski, University College Dublin, “Into the Digital Age: Sports History, Teaching and Learning, and Web 2.0”

Commentator: Holly Thorpe, University of Waikato

***

During gaps in the conference proceedings, I was able to sneak away for the odd run or walk around the beautiful Berkeley campus, and even managed to find a very cool studio called Yoga To The People (http://yogatothepeople.com/berkeley/).

Following the conference, I had a lovely couple of days in San Francisco with my dear friends Megan Popovic and Rebecca Olive, during which we wandered the streets, spent hours in the City Lights bookstore, and hiked in the incredible Muir redwood forest. Thanks to my time with colleagues, mentors and friends, I return home refreshed and inspired, and (almost) ready for the weeks of marking ahead.

Rebecca, Megan and Holly in North Beach, San Francisco

Kitesurfing becomes an Olympic sport: Let the (political) fun and games begin

It has recently been announced that kitesurfing will replace windsurfing as an Olympic sport at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. This is, of course, a highly political decision that is currently gaining much media coverage (particularly surrounding the way the decision was reached –e.g., supposedly, the Spanish delegate accidentally voted for kitesurfing rather than windsurfing). In New Zealand, there is some debate as to whether Yachting New Zealand or Surfing New Zealand should be the governing body, as kitesurfing currently has no national association in New Zealand.

I live in Raglan; a thriving kitesurfing (and surf) community attracting kiters (and surfers) from all over the world. So, the news that kiteboarding was to become an Olympic sport is a big deal for many members of this little town; it is likely that some will be putting 2016 on their calendars as a potentially very big year. But, I am also interested in this issue from an academic perspective.

Last year, Dr Belinda Wheaton (University of Brighton) and I had an article published in Sociology journal titled “Generation X Games”, Action Sports and the Olympic Movement: Understanding the Cultural Politics of Incorporation, in which we discuss the highly political nature of including new youth-focused action sports into the Olympic Games. Our paper suggested that the decision to include kitesurfing in the Olympic program was on the horizon, and thus the politics were brewing.

Our abstract reads:

An important and mounting issue for the contemporary Olympic Movement is how to remain relevant to younger generations. Cognizant of the diminishing numbers of youth viewers, and the growing success of the X Games—the ‘Olympics’ of action sport—the International Olympic Committee (IOC) set about adding a selection of youth-oriented action sports into the Olympic program. In this paper we offer the first in-depth discussion of the cultural politics of action sports Olympic incorporation via case studies of windsurfing, snowboarding, and bicycle motocross (BMX). Adopting a post-subcultural theoretical approach, our analysis reveals that the incorporation process, and forms of (sub)cultural contestation, is in each case unique, based on a complex and shifting set of intra- and inter-politics between key agents, namely the IOC and associated sporting bodies, media conglomerates, and the action sport cultures and industries. In so doing, our paper illustrates some of the complex power struggles involved in modernizing the Olympic Games in the 21st century (p. 830).

Here are a few excerpts from the text that seem relevant to the current debates:

Action sport cultures are dynamic and in a constant state of flux; to remain relevant to participants and younger viewers, sporting organizations and media agencies must remain flexible to accommodate quickly changing styles and technologies. When windsurfing was incorporated into the Games in the 1980s it was characterised as a youthful and ‘extreme’ sport, but, by the early 21st century, Olympic-style windsurfing was a lack-lustre, marginalised form, attracting little interest from either the windsurfing culture or mainstream media. Thus, in an effort to revamp Olympic sailing, the organizing committee for the Brazil Olympics are considering including kite-surfing in the 2016 sailing regatta (IKA Launches, 2009). Kite-surfing is a newer, high-adrenalin sport, that is more affordable and accessible than windsurfing, and is rapidly gaining popularity, particularly among a younger demographic. According to Michael Gebhardt, US Olympic windsurfing medallist and member of the International Kite surfing Association [IKA] Olympic Commission, kite-surfing has the ‘potential to be a better spectator sport than other sailing events’; ‘it perfectly suits the IOC strategy; it is the best performing of all sailing classes, offers equal opportunities for any kind of athlete, and is affordable and transportable [and] media attractive’ (para. 5). Kendall, the (former) Oceanic IOC windsurfing representative, also welcomes this initiative, recognising that, since windsurfing’s consumer peak (in the late 80s/early 90s) participation has been declining, with some enthusiasts ‘diversifying’ into kite surfing; ‘I totally agree with keeping up with what the world is doing… and that’s what they have got to do to keep the Olympics… relevant for young people’ (interview, March 2010) (p. 836).

In our conclusion, we wrote:

…as illustrated via the case studies of windsurfing, snowboarding, and BMX, the incorporation of alternative sporting lifestyles into the Olympic Games is a contested process, involving a range of power struggles between the IOC and governing sporting bodies, media conglomerates, and the action sports cultures and their industries. The cultural politics between and within these groups are unique based on the distinctive history, ideologies, identities and development patterns of each action sport culture, as well as the specific historical juncture within which the incorporation processes occurred. …

Despite these contextual differences, the case studies also reveal some interesting commonalities in the way action sporting cultures, and their industries, have responded to the incorporation into the Olympic program. In their efforts to fast-track the inclusion of action sports into the Olympic program, the IOC incorporated them under existing sports with little knowledge of the unique cultural values or practical requirements of action sports participants. Windsurfing was included under the governing body of yachting; snowboarding as a discipline of skiing; and attempts continue to be made to include skateboarding as a sport under the control of the cycling federation. For many participants, such processes prompted anxiety about the IOC’s motives, and the potential loss of autonomy within the Olympic structures. As discussed above, snowboarding is increasingly becoming an economic force in the Winter Olympics, and some participants appear to be gaining agency (albeit limited) within the FIS, perhaps more so than windsurfers or BMX-racers. However, it is difficult to assess the full extent of institutional autonomy (or constraints) for action sport participants within these governing bodies, or the underlying motives of various agents. While inclusion has traditionally been initiated by the IOC and/or Olympic sporting bodies, with many action sport-related businesses currently struggling amid the difficult economic climate, some action sport agents and organizations are increasingly lobbying for Olympic inclusion (e.g., kite-surfing and surfing). Inevitably, the power relations between these key agents will differ considerably in this new context.

Our discussion also raised questions about the capacity of the Olympic Games to be sustained and reinvented amid the rapidly changing global sport system. While the IOC’s detailed rules and strict regulations make it very slow to evolve, creating barriers for including rapidly evolving action sports or new disciplines into the program, we have seen the IOC and various sporting bodies increasingly employ an array of creative strategies in their attempts to modernise the Olympic movement and tap into the lucrative (Western) youth market. Witnessing the successful production and marketing strategies employed by other mega sporting events (e.g., the X Games) for responding to the quick-changing fashions in youth sports and popular culture, the IOC is paying closer attention to the styles favoured by youth niche markets, and seems increasingly prepared to capitalise upon some of them no matter how short term or limited their influence. The Olympic committee and various Olympic sporting bodies continue to look for new action sports (e.g., kite-surfing, parkour, skateboarding, surfing) and events (e.g., freestyle BMX, ski halfpipe, snowboard and ski slope-style), and more innovative representational styles, as ways to further reconnect with new generations of youth.

The intention of this paper, however, was not to predict the future successes (or failures) of action sports inclusion into the Olympic program, but rather to illustrate how action sports are shifting, and are likely to continue to shift, the representation and consumption of the Olympic Games. Thus, in revealing some of the unique cultural politics involved in action sports incorporation into the Olympic program, our paper also illustrates the complex power relations involved in modernizing the Olympic Games in the early twenty-first century (pp. 842-3).

For anyone interested in reading this article, please get in touch with me via email (hthorpe@waikato.ac.nz). I look forward to ongoing discussions and debates about the changing face of the Olympics, and particularly the recent inclusion of kitesurfing into the Summer Olympic Games.

Teaching at Georgetown University, Fall 2012: Sport and National Identity

As part of my Fulbright award, I will be teaching a course at Georgetown University during the 2012 Fall Semester titled ‘Sport and National Identity’. The course is now being advertised here. I am very much looking forward to my time in the US!

Interview with Peggy Oki: Skateboarding Legend and Environmental Activist

Over the Easter weekend I wrote an article for Curl magazine based on an interview with the legendary Peggy Oki. The article focuses on her environmental activism and particularly her campaign ‘Let’s Face It’ to protect the critically endangered Maui’s dolphin. It was a pleasure to interview Peggy. You can read the article/interview here.

Public Intellectualism in New Zealand

A great article by New Zealand Herald journalist Chris Barton titled ‘Speaking Out’ was published in The Business Herald on Friday 3, February 2012. Drawing upon the research of Todd Bridgman (a Senior Lecturer at Victoria University), Barton applauds the (very) few academics in New Zealand who have offered public commentary on, and critique of, the economic structures underpinning the global economic crisis. Barton also identifies some of the unique challenges of ‘speaking out’ and being a public intellectual in New Zealand, including the “long Kiwi tradition of regarding the word ‘intellectual’ as a term of abuse” (p. 12). I highly recommend this article to any/all of my academic colleagues in New Zealand and elsewhere who continue to struggle everyday to practice their politics within and beyond the university context,  and are seeking new ways to “‘speak truth to power’ and rekindle the role of critic and conscience of society” (Barton, 2011, p. 13).

Risk and responsibility in extreme sports: The death of skier Sarah Burke

Sadly, Canadian freestyle skiing superstar Sarah Burke died on January 19, 2012, nine days after an accident during training in Salt Lake City, Utah. A four time X Games champion and a strong advocate for the inclusion of the skiing half-pipe event at the 2014 Winter Olympics, she was just 29.

This incident has, once again, raised many questions about the increasing risk accepted by extreme sport athletes as they continue to redefine what is possible on a pair of skis or a snowboard, and go ‘faster, higher, stronger’ (the Olympic motto). I was interviewed by CBC reporter Teddy Katz last week and was featured in a couple of short radio programs about this incident and the responsibility of organizations to protect these athletes by policing and regulating their behavior. You can listen to these clips here: 1) the world this hour jan 20 2012-4 and 2) the world at 6 jan 20 2012-1, or read the online article at: http://www.cbc.ca/sports/skiing/story/2012/01/20/sp-freestyle-safety.html

An update from my recent North American travels

Well, I am now ‘home sweet home’ after a month long trip to the US and Canada. Here are a few of the highlights from my journey:

NASSS 2011

My travels started with the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport (NASSS) conference in Minneapolis (Minnesota, US) from November 2-5.

During this conference I chaired a session titled ‘Extreme/Action/Lifestyle Sports and Neoliberalism’ with three papers, including one by Jason Laurendeau (University of Lethbridgde) and Sara Moroz (independent scholar) titled ’Risk, responsibility and neoliberalism in media accounts of backcountry rescue’, and another great paper by Matthew Atencio, Emily Chivers Yochim (Allegheny College), and Becky Beal (California State University) titled ‘”It ain’t just black kids and white kids”: The creation and representation of authentic ‘skurban’ masculinities’. I also presented a paper (co-authored with my University of Waikato colleague Robert Rinehart) in this session. The title and abstract for this paper are below:

Action sport NGOs in a neoliberal context

By Holly Thorpe and Robert Rinehart

Sport non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have flourished in the contemporary moment, particularly situated within neoliberal global politics. In this paper we focus on the relatively recent proliferation of action sport-related social justice advocacy groups. Drawing upon extant materials from our ongoing research on two action sport-based social ‘justice’ movements—Skateistan (a non-profit co-educational skateboarding school in urban Afghanistan) and SurfAid International (a non-profit humanitarian organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of local people in the surf-rich Mentawai Islands)—we illustrate some of the unique (for-profit inspired) strategies employed by these organizations to survive, and indeed thrive, within a neo-liberally-dominated world.

At this conference I also chaired a session titled ‘Putting social theory to work in sport and physical cultural contexts: Conversations between sociology and psychology’ with three excellent papers by University of Alberta PhD candidates Zoe Avner, Marianne Clark, and Luke Jones. Despite the early morning start, these papers fostered some stimulating discussion and debate regarding the value of Foucault’s work for thinking about fun and pleasure in high performance sport, particularly female soccer (Avner), young dancers constructions of the self  in commercial studios (Clark), and the need to rethink the ways athletic retirement has been studied in relation to UK football (Jones).

Also at this conference, I was part of the Presidential Panel titled ‘The Politics, Technologies, and (Bio)Pedagogies of Moving Bodies’ with Genevieve Rail, Theodore Butryn and Michael Atkinson. In my paper, titled Bodies Beyond Bo(a)rders: Toward Theoretical and Transdisciplinary Adventures, I advocated the need to rethink the ways we theorize the biological body in our sociological work. As always, NASSS 2011 was a wonderful opportunity to catch-up with my international peers and friends, and engage with some of the latest research being done in the field. I am already looking forward to NASSS 2012 in New Orleans!

NASSS 2011 program cover

University of Alberta

Following NASSS I visited the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada). On Tuesday 8th November from 12-1pm, I gave a seminar to the Body, Movement, Culture, and Coaching groups in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation. The title and abstract for this seminar are below:

Beyond the Biology/Culture Divide: A Transdisciplinary Investigation of Amenorrhea in Female Runners

 Women across the Western world are participating in sport and exercise in record numbers. While the social, psychological and physical health benefits of regular physical activity have been widely disseminated, rigorous exercise is also associated with a unique set of risks for women. The risks facing elite female athletes (e.g., osteoporosis, stress fractures, and amenorrhea) have been well documented, yet the potentially harmful effects of moderate to excessive exercise for women are less well-known, particularly among female exercisers themselves, many of whom have internalized social messages that exercise is ‘good for you’ and the ‘more the better’. Endocrinological research has shown, however, that four out of five exercising women experience mild reproductive abnormalities (De Souza, et. al, 1998) and up to 46 per cent of recreational runners develop oligomenorrhea or amenorrhea (De Souza, et al, 2010). Given such statistics, it is surprising that the relationship between women’s exercise practices and hormonal and reproductive systems are rarely examined (critically or otherwise) in professional, public and research texts. In this project I am seeking to understand these silences, as well as provide fresh insights into women’s understandings of their exercising bodies, and how they make meaning of menstrual dysfunction. In this seminar, I will discuss the potential (and perils) of adopting a trans-disciplinary approach that engages various disciplines (e.g., sociology of sport, media studies, medical sociology, feminist theory, history, education, psychology, physiology, and endocrinology) in a dialogue on amenorrhea among female exercisers, and particularly runners. With this project still in its early stage of development, it is hoped that this seminar will provide an opportunity for staff and students from various disciplines to enter the conversation and to consider the potential of their own, and other, disciplines for shedding light on the complex relationship between the biological and social dimensions of women’s sporting bodies.

I was thrilled to see such a great turnout at this seminar, and enjoyed engaging in trans-disciplinary conversations with graduate students and Faculty from coaching, sociology, psychology, and physiology, following my presentation. I think the attendance and engagement at this seminar says a lot about the positive inter-disciplinarity of these research groups. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the University of Alberta, and am very grateful for the wonderful hospitality of Professor Pirkko Markula and Dr Jim Denison.

University of British Columbia

After my short visit to Edmonton, I flew to Vancouver. On Friday 11th, I visited Professor Patricia Vertinsky at the University of British Columbia who generously took time out of her busy schedule to show me around the gorgeous UBC campus. During my visit, I participated in a ‘NASSS debrief’ with a number of socio-cultural graduate students from the School of Kinesiology. This stimulating discussion was followed by a lovely lunch with Patricia and two of her PhD candidates, Sandy Wells and Bieke Gils.

Beautiful Vancouver in the Fall/Autumn

Georgetown University

The following week I spent a few days at Georgetown University, basically familiarizing myself with the campus (including the wonderful libraries, and an infamous set of stairs) and accommodation options during my forthcoming Fulbright Fellowship in August 2012. I also enjoyed meeting Prof. Alan Tidwell, Chair of the Centre for Australian and New Zealand Studies, where I will be based for six months next year. Georgetown has a beautiful and vibrant campus, and I am very much looking forward  to meeting and working with the students and Faculty next year.

Everyday editorial politics observed at SFO Airport. While filling my drink bottle at a water fountain, I noted a frustrated woman adding this note to the upper left-hand corner of this sign. The note offers an alternative spelling for 'improvment' and adds: 'Please hire a proofreader for your signage!'