‘Back to Nature’ Fitness and Beyond: Critical Posthumanism and the Moving Body-in-Nature – Dr Gavin Weedon, Nottingham Trent University

Date: Thursday 7 March

Time: 5:00-6:00pm

Location: HC.0.06, Heart of Campus, Collegiate Campus, Sheffield Hallam University

Book tickets (free admission)


Since its nineteenth century iteration as a movement of movement practices, physical culture has expressed complex, at times contradictory relations between nature and humanity. Theorizing this complexity, critical scholarship on physical cultural practices has variously hailed ‘nature’ as an object to be conquered, a myth to be debunked, a remedy to the ills of industrial labour and leisure, an ‘environment’ to which we are or are not connected, and as a source of spiritual reverence for embodied world-making. In this seminar I chart a different course for understanding the nature of the body in sport and physical culture, one that draws from posthumanist, ‘new’ materialist, and political ecological approaches. First, in focusing on what I call the ‘back to nature’ fitness movement, I argue that monistic insights about the moving body-in-nature are largely absent from these practices andfrom their critical diagnoses, where dualistic tendencies and their attendant problems persist. Second, I draw from an ongoing, collaborative study of protein powder to chart the promise of posthumanist inquiry for comprehending the body-in-nature, with an emphasis on the notion of ‘ecological embodiment’ as a permeable condition of becoming.

Dr Gavin Weedon,was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of British Columbia, Canada. In 2016, he was awarded his PhD at UBC under the co-supervision of Professor Brian Wilson and Professor Samantha King (Queen’s University). He also holds degrees from Loughborough University and from Southampton Solent University, where he taught as a Lecturer in Sociology of Sport between 2009 and 2011. His research explores embodied practices from a range of fields, theories and disciplines, with a focus on nature-society relations, political economy and consumerism, and the politics of embodiment. His current projects examine the political ecology of protein supplementation (a collaboration with Dr. Samantha King, Queen’s University, Canada), telomere biology and the Anthropocene, and the ‘back to nature’ fitness’ movement.