Searching for Balance: A Historian’s View of the Fractured World of Kinesiology

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In this essay, I drew upon the perspectives of Walter Benjamin’s “angel of history” in reflecting upon the history of kinesiology and the influences that led to my own academic career in kinesiology. I have outlined how my disciplinary training as a physical educator and educational historian provided the resources to propel my continuing inquiry into the inter- and cross-disciplinary (and intrinsically entangled) nature of kinesiology. Gender, nationality, training, location, and timing all had their influences on my education and job opportunities and upon building toward a career in a research university where physical education and kinesiology, by design and accident, increasingly separated from one another. From the perspective of a sport historian, I suggest that the language and pursuit of balance might be applied productively to thinking about the future of kinesiology. Sport historians can help in this mission by training a critical lens upon the ongoing traffic between nature and culture and the deep sociocultural situatedness of the science and technology practices used in kinesiology teaching and research in the 21st century. In essence, they can illuminate the historical context of the tools that now frame kinesiology’s questions and the political context in which their answers emerge.

The author (Patricia.Vertinsky@ubc.ca) is with the School of Kinesiology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

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