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Title: Signifying the body : nation, sport and the cultural analysis of Pierre Bourdieu
Author: Fjeld, Torgeir
ISNI:       0000 0004 2730 2439
Awarding Body: University of Roehampton
Current Institution: University of Roehampton
Date of Award: 2005
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The present study is an interrogation of theories of culture and nation in the context of spectacular sports. It proposes a view of nationalism as discourses that articulate and produce nations through narrative acts. A wide array of concepts and tools are drawn from the work of Pierre Bourdieu and contrasted with methods and notions from discursive and semiotic analysis to interrogate a national-sports nexus in which sports are vehicles to embody nations, their matrices of thought and perception, and their dominant order of masculinity and heteronormativity in the national subject, so that this order appears natural and commonsensical. Particular attention is given to the case of South Africa’s participation in the 1998 World Cup, and the way the epic genre was employed to frame the event and produce a particular kind of national body. Spectacular sports events provide nations with opportunities to disseminate narratives that regulate desire and conjure a particular kind of national fantasy – what Bourdieu referred to as illusio – in subjects. This work makes a distinction between an epic body of nationalism, a body enmeshed in "the natural and authentic," and an excessive body. However, mediations of sports are never merely reflections of social events but themselves participate in producing these events as meaningful and anchor them as national. Furthermore, an actively interpreting subject is required for the production of meaning, and in this regard the thesis offers a critique of Bourdieu’s limited view on what it entails for a recipient of nationalist discourse to be active. The questions addressed by this study is twofold: how and what kind of national order of the body and desire is manufactured through spectacular sports events, and how are mediations of such events made meaningful in subjects? The open-ended character of signification means that beneath the level of nationalist anchorage of spectacular sports events other articulations are possible. Drawing on Bourdieu’s view of sports as forms of silent dressage, the thesis suggests that there is a potential excess of meaning that enables such events to become potential sites of subjective truth: as viewers realise the fantasmatic character of such mediations they may come to question the notion that spectacular sports are something more than just a game.
Supervisor: Eade, Phillip ; Wagg, Stephen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sport ; Sporting events ; Nation ; Pierre Bourdieu