Decolonizing Sport Science: High Performance Sport, Indigenous Cultures, and Women's Rugby

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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To date, there is little research focusing on the role of culture and Indigenous ways of knowing in Western science-dominated high performance sporting environments. This paper takes inspiration from the emerging field of Postcolonial Science Studies and feminist Indigenous scholars to explore how Aotearoa (New Zealand) Black Ferns Sevens players from Māori and Samoan descent make meaning of their bodies within Westernized high performance sporting spaces. Drawing upon a thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with 18 members of the Black Ferns Sevens squad, we illustrate how players navigate divergent cultural value systems within and across various aspects of the high performance sport environment, including training, nutrition, menstruation, and the everyday quantification of their bodies. This paper also reveals some of the important considerations, learnings, and vulnerabilities experienced during this cross-cultural research collaboration, and highlights the need for more research by/with/for Indigenous women in high performance sport environment.

The authors are with the Te Huataki Waiora / Faculty of Health, Sport, and Human Performance, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.

Thorpe (holly.thorpe@waikato.ac.nz) is corresponding author.
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