Meaning by Doing: The Making of Endurance Activism on the 1986 Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament

in Sport History Review
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  • 1 Lock Haven University
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This article offers a consideration of physical activity within the contexts of social movement philosophies, decision making, strategies, and tactics through an examination of the 1986 Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament. Drawing from interviews with twenty activists on the Great Peace March, the author argues that physicality and endurance actions—literally, but also symbolically—signify particular meanings of movement for social movements, such as persistence, focus, and determination, to stretch sociopolitical limits and boundaries. Participants endeavor to accomplish difficult physical challenges and maintain the solidarity of their communities to analogize the coming into existence of equally extraordinary visions of social or political transformation. Physical and symbolic expressions of what the author terms “endurance activism” sustained the marchers’ vision of community and the survival of their organization. The article encourages sport historians to use a wider framework to interpret the links between physical activity, social activism, and oppositional movements.

Dain TePoel (dht1117@lockhaven.edu) is with the Sport Studies Department, Lock Haven University, Lock Haven, PA, USA.