Your web browser is out of date. Update your browser for the best experience on this site, additional security, and speed.

Update browser

Transdisciplinary sport: The promise and politics of navigating research boundaries

A female athlete training with a heavy ball on the floor in a gym
Date and Time
20th November 2023, 15:00 - 16:00
The event has passed


This talk was delivered by Professor Holly Thorpe an award-winning sociologist working in The Huataki Waiora School of Health at the University of Waikato, New Zealand in November 2023.

Scholars of sport and exercise are increasingly implored to work across the disciplines. Yet, transdisciplinary research carries many challenges, including deeply entrenched variation in social practices, norms, and expectations within and across different disciplines. In this talk, Professor Thorpe discussed the potential, politics, and ethics of advancing transdisciplinary ways of knowing sporting bodies.

Drawing upon her learnings from a transdisciplinary project on elite sportswomen’s health and wellbeing in Aotearoa New Zealand, she illustrates how engaging with new materialist theorizing encouraged a rethinking of transdisciplinary research. Working with Karen Barad’s agential realism over many years surfaced new insights into the various intra-actions and practices that reproduce disciplinary boundaries, which ultimately allowed for more productive transdisciplinary work with sport scientists, doctors, nutritionists and other sport and health professionals.

She concludes by discussing the political and practical value of such approaches for scholars committed to improving the opportunities and experiences of those within elite sporting cultures, as well as for those working in multi-disciplinary departments focused on teaching and researching sport, exercise and physical culture.

Professor Holly Thorpe is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. Her research interests include informal and action sports, youth culture, gender, women’s health and wellbeing, and sport for development and recovery. She embraces opportunities to work across disciplines and is passionate about exploring social theories and methods that are responsive to the changing world around us. Driven to do research that has real world impact, Professor Thorpe has worked closely with an array of international and national sports organizations (e.g., International Olympic Committee, High Performance Sport New Zealand, Sport New Zealand, Skateistan) to inform new practices, processes, and policy development.


Professor Thorpe has published over 100 articles and chapters, with some of her most recent books including:

  • Sport and Physical Culture in Global Pandemic Times (edited with David Andrews and Joshua Newman, 2023)
  • Action Sports and the Olympic Games: Past, Present, Future (with Belinda Wheaton, 2022)
  • Gender, Sport and Development: Intersections, Innovations, and Future Trajectories (with Lyndsay Hayhurst and Megan Chawansky, 2021)
  • Feminist New Materialisms, Sport and Fitness: A Lively Entanglement (with Julie Brice and Marianne Clark, 2020)
  • Sport, Physical Culture and the Moving Bodies: Materialisms, Technologies, Ecologies (edited with Joshua Newman and David Andrews, 2020).

If you would like to receive email updates letting you know when we are holding future events please sign up here.