For the first episode of the year 2020, we here at Somatic Podcast examine a significant scholarly and theoretical development currently taking shape in the sociology of sport specifically and the humanities and social sciences in general. An increasing number of critical sport scholars are embracing theoretical discourses collectively associated with “New Materialism” - scholarship that seeks to destabilize Anthropocentric notions of human subjectivity and relate humans with nonhuman and environmental actants in the contemporary context of rapid technological change and global late capitalism. New Materialism complicates the influential foundations laid by decades of historical and cultural materialist inquiry, as well as the twentieth-century “linguistic turn”, in which feminist, critical race, postcolonial and poststructural scholars emphasized the social constructed-ness of categories like gender and race and the role of discourse in contexts of identity formation. Equipped with this insight from the linguistic turn, scholars are now returning their focus to “matter”, and are trying to better understand human life in relation to technology, animals, and other environmental and non-human “actants” in a way that does not privilege the human subject.
Thus, this first episode is dedicated to the question of New Materialism and how New Materialist theories can productively extend the critical study of sport, physical culture and the active body - and humanities and social science research more broadly - in new and excited ways. Specifically, we speak with Drs. Joshua Newman, Holly Thorpe, and David Andrews, three prominent scholars in the sociology of sport field who recently edited a volume of New Materialist scholarship, culminating the new book Sport, Physical Culture, and the Moving Body: Materialisms, Technologies, Ecologies. The editors discuss New Materialist inquiry and how it can contribute to more nuanced takes on the role of sport and the moving body in our present era of climate change and late capitalism. We also speak with Dr. Marianne Clark, a chapter author in the book, to get a better understand of what exactly is New Materialist sport scholarship and what kind of research may be generated by the New Materialist turn. As always, we have interwoven the discussion with original music and soundscape in the hopes of engendering a more layered, multi-sensorial reading of the story.
Samuel M. Clevenger, PhD
Lecturer, Sport Management, Towson University