heather sykes on sport and sexuality


Heather Sykes, ‘Un-settling sex: researcher self-reflexivity, queer theory and settler colonial studies’, Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health (2014).

This paper uses self-reflexive personal narratives to examine how queer research about sexuality in sport studies is implicated in both historical and ongoing processes of settler colonialism. Like feminist research, queer research has to be critically self-reflexive about how genders and sexualities are formed through transnational flows across global and local contexts, and within geopolitical relations of power. I start with a critique of research about gays and lesbians ‘coming out’ in sport that continues to be aligned with the rationality of Western Enlightenment and the politics of US exceptionalism. Feminist-queer-trans poststructural research into sexuality and gender categories is gradually exposing the scientific racism and Western theoretical imperialism underpinning the very categories ‘lesbian’ and ‘gay’. It is within this context that my own research has shifted to examine ‘whiteness’ in terms of my specific colonial locations and histories. I include self-reflexive narratives about doing research as a critical white queer settler in Canada, coming out of my ‘colonial closet’ and my anti-colonial research relationships in Amman and Sochi. My purpose is to ‘un-settle’ assumptions about theories and methodologies used to research sexuality, gender and sex in sport studies.
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