Remembering learning to play: reworking gendered memories of sport, physical activity, and movement

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In this article, we explore young women’s memories of their experiences with sport, physical activity, and play during their childhood. Through collective memory work – sharing, discussing, writing, and analysing sporting memories/histories – we examine (re)constructions of young women’s experiences of gendered relations of power, bodily awareness, and regulation within movement-based practices. The approach taken explores relationships between theory and method, a feature of post- qualitative inquiry. Forming a collaborative memory workshop with six young women (aged 19–22) and two researchers, we illustrate how work-ing memories facilitates the interrogation of taken-for-granted assump-tions about women’s active bodies. Represented through two memories in this paper, their production, representation, and analysis were a collaborative effort, not solely representative of two individual experi-ences. Despite growing up within a period wherein women’s access to and engagement with sport and physical activity is more available, com-mon, and diverse compared to the youth of past generations, young women’s experiences explored here illustrate the ways in which move-ment-based practices are located within the confluence of postfeminist sensibilities including, intensely scrutinised gendered body cultures, potent neoliberal configurations, and discourses of empowerment. It is these new sporting and active femininities and the gendering experiences of physical culture that are explored within this paper through memory work and collective biography
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-466
Number of pages18
JournalQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Issue number4
Early online date2 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2023


  • Memory
  • collaborative writing
  • collective biography
  • embodiment
  • femininity
  • gender
  • memory work
  • physical activity
  • post-qualitative inquiry
  • sport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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