Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor and Director, Anthropology, Butler University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1997
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Michigan
Ideological Constructions and Reflections on the Fields of Sport: A Study of the Japan Ladies Soccer League

The worlds of sport inform and are informed by broader social contexts, often reflecting and reaffirming hegemonic imperatives along gendered, racial, ethnic, class, and nationalist lines. This project will focus on women's soccer in Japan to explore the ways that dominant discourses about "femininity" and "masculinity" revolve around the bodies of young female athletes, who are perceived to be invading into a male sphere. As one of the last domains where men claim superiority at the level of the biological, the realm of sports serves as a battleground where definitions of sex and gender are continuously debated, regulated, and at times, transformed. For this reason, the Japan Ladies Soccer League (JL SL) is a particularly rich site to examine the nature of the sex-gender system in contemporary Japan. Athletic female bodies are often read as "transgressive," and the regulating practices and discourses that work to contain their counter- conventional possibilities provide great insight into both the nature of dominant ideology as well as the technologies that control embodiment. As women's athletic participation rises dramatically all over the world, a study of the JLSL--the first professional league of its kind in the world--will serve not only to develop theoretical and methodological techniques for exploring intersections of sex, gender, and sport, but will also provide impetus for pursuing similar projects in other cultural contexts, so that we can understand how women's increasing athletic participation may reflect, as well as be actively affecting, larger socio-economic and cultural transformations.