SHU Space & Place Group: ‘Changing Places #3: Sport & physical activity in catastrophic environments’, online event, 3-11-22

The Sheffield Hallam University Space & Place Group is delighted to announce that for the next event in our ‘Changing Places’ series we are hosting an online book launch for an exciting and timely new collection edited by Jim Cherrington and Jack Black, entitled Sport and Physical Activity in Catastrophic Environments as part of Routledge’s ‘Research in Sport, Culture and Society’ series. Featuring contributions from around the world, this collection looks at the ways in which sport and physical activity react to natural and man-made shocks to place, whether by armed conflict, natural disaster or socio-economic turmoil. Our online book launch event will feature presentations from the editors and three of the contributors:

Jim Cherrington and Jack Black (Sheffield Hallam University)

Introduction. Sport and Physical Activity in Catastrophic Environments: Tuning to the ‘weird’ and the ‘eerie’

Dani Abulhawa (Leeds University)

Moving toward understanding through open and expressive physical activity: Findings from a preliminary study into the work of Skateboarding charity, SkatePal in the West Bank, Occupied Palestinian Territories

Kevin Bingham (Barnsley College)

An urban explorer’s experiences of meshwork, melding and the uncanny: invisible cities of the rubble

Kass Gibson (Plymouth Marjons University)

Informational Hazards and Moral Harm: Sport and Exercise Science Laboratories as Sites of Moral Catastrophes

Places are free, but must be booked via Eventbrite (see below for the link). Registered delegates will be emailed the event’s Zoom link 24 hours prior to the start of the event.

This edited collection addresses a clear gap in the literature, as to date, there is a paucity of scholarly research that directly examines the role of sport and physical activity in the experiences of individuals and communities who have lived through catastrophe (Thorpe, 2015). This is surprising, since the ability of individuals and communities to maintain healthy relationships with their surroundings– most notably, before, during and after catastrophe – is an important point of focus, posing a number of significant questions for sport and physical activity researchers (Rowe, 2020). Namely: What happens when our existing geographical, topographical, sociological and political coordinates are shattered because of war or poverty? How can sport and exercise help us to cope when faced with unprecedented levels of planetary change? Can, and if so how, does life go on in the wastelands left over from resource extraction, industrialisation and economic decay? And what are the consequences of global pandemics for the (physical and mental) health of those whose everyday activities, hobbies, interests and forms of labour are dependent on stable notions of identity, embodiment and place? Here, sport and physical activity may seem trivial to many. However, research on the recent Covid-19 pandemic has shown how involvement in physical cultures provides an important locus of support in times of hardship and pain, as well as an important mechanism for managing the embodied, cognitive, and structural ruptures that accompany unprecedented events.

In attempting to address this lacuna, this session will present a series of case studies from an edited collection entitled: ‘Sport and Physical Activity in Catastrophic Environments’, which will be published by Routledge on November 8th 2022. Key to this approach will be an investigation of both the negative (i.e. death, mental and physical health issues, human displacement) and positive (new social and political identities, increase in environmental awareness, personal growth) outcomes of a range of socio-cultural and political changes, specifically related to the ‘end’ of capitalism, socialisation, ‘nature’ and morality. By allowing for interdisciplinary contributions that are located at the juncture of sociology, geography, social psychology, political ecology, philosophy, and the arts, an analysis of how participants in sport and physical activity respond to the complexities of the environment will be provided. In so doing, the sessions will explore the cognitive and affective sensibilities used by both individuals and communities to experiment with new social, cultural and political identities as well as how these processes are adapted in times of chaos. In this way, we hope that the session will make a meaningful contribution to empirical analyses of sport, physical activity, and the environment, while also examining how such analyses might help in developing practical resilience strategies for those most affected by catastrophic change.

Copies of this book can be purchased directly from the Routledge website:

Attendance is free – but you’ll need to book via the Eventbrite page: