• Date: April 26
  • Time: 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
  • Speaker: Prof. Susan Brownell
  • Venue: E21B-G016
  • Organizer: Department of Sociology
  • Phone: 8822 4595

Sports events are a kind of cultural performance in which dominant cultural values are displayed to a public audience through the medium of the body. The performance expresses an entire orientation to the world, which is trained into the body through physical education in the schools and specialized sports training, reinforced by the habits of daily practice, and organized by an underlying symbolic logic. Since gender is a central feature of the body, sports also display important gender ideals and norms. Thus, sports have historically served as a site for conflicts over what kind of gendered body should be publicly displayed. Most modern Olympic sports were invented in the West in the 19th century and imported into China over the 20th century. Thus, sports provide a lens for contrasting the Western gendered body with the traditional Chinese body, and for examining how the Chinese gendered body has changed with China’s entry into the international community. Reviewing the culture of the sporting body in China over the last one hundred years raises the question of whether China and the West have become culturally more similar, and what this means for the future of cultural differences in the 21st century.

Prof. Susan Brownell is Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She is an internationally recognized expert on Chinese sports, Olympic Games and World’s Fairs, with focus on the interplay between the body, sports, transnationalism and ritual. She has published two single-authored books, co-authored one book, edited five volumes, 28 book chapters and 20 articles. Prof. Brownell has delivered 12 keynote speeches to various academic audiences. She was appointed to the International Olympic Committee Research Council, and was a Fulbright Senior Researcher at Beijing Sport University. She was invited to become a member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.