(Dis)abled athletes as the “Ambassadors of transhumanism”

Brighton, J. and Sparkes, A. (2014) (Dis)abled athletes as the “Ambassadors of transhumanism”. In: Normalcy 2014- Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane: More Questions of the Human, 8th-9th June 2014, University of Sheffield. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Drawing on data generated from a four year ethnographic study into wheelchair sport in England we examine how (dis)abled athletes come to understand themselves as a “complex hybridisation” between (Wo)Man and machine (Haraway, 1991). A structural narrative analysis of the ‘big’ and ‘small’ stories (Bamberg, 2006) told by the (dis)abled athletes in the field revealed three ideal types in action. Techno-survival stories and techno-rehabilitation stories were entrenched in, and sanctioned by the medical discourses of restoration and normalisation that informed the way participants made sense of their bodies and constructed their identities over time. In contrast, using cyborg embodiment stories some participants demonstrated a sense of agency in creating new ways of relating to technology which allowed them to challenge and reject various dualisms (e.g., able/disabled, normal/abnormal), and instead construct ‘proud’ (dis)abled identities that imagine different kinds of humanity in relation to various technological fields. Some reflections are offered on the ways in which these cyborg embodiment stories transgress established dualisms and offer what Haraway (1991) calls “dangerous possibilities” for the empowerment of (dis)abled athletes. In this process we suggest that in the future (dis)abled athletes have the potential to become “ambassadors of transhumanism” as described by Miah (2003).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: pre Nov-2014 > Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > Sport Science, Tourism and Leisure
Depositing User: James Brighton
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2014 16:29
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2014 09:22
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/12886

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00