As the Paralympic Games commence in just a few short hours in London, Anthropology News takes an anthropological look into the Games.
Emily Cohen creates a compelling photo essay in her recent Anthropology News article On Becoming a Colombian Paralympian. Cohen explains that in a country where landmines are still a commonplace in daily public life, “[t]his photo essay critically explores the visual politics and problems with representation in the competitive arena of disability sports in Columbia.”
Here is an excerpt:
Colombia, a country at war for over 50 years, has one of the highest rates of landmine injuries in the world. For decades, landmine victims remained outside of the nation’s popular consciousness. Today, landmines and rehabilitation medicine profoundly shape public life. This photo essay critically explores the visual politics and problems with representation in the competitive arena of disability sports in Colombia. I include stills from my fieldwork and ethnographic film depicting soldier amputees who aspire to become star Paralympians and yearn to qualify for the London Olympics. In my fieldwork, soldiers incorporate industrial prosthetics into their bodies through strenuous daily exercises and talk about their dreams of not only walking “properly,” but also becoming agile sportsmen. Through interweaving text and video stills, a story unfolds about how commercial medicine, humanitarian activists, disability movements and the military mobilize individual masculine desires to be agile – how they arouse nationalist sentiments around human capacity, sportsmanship, and a “disabled” person’s ability to exceed “normal” human capacity. As much as Paralympic events inspire hopes for overcoming the adversities of war, they also displace the daily realities of landmine injury in Colombia that not only affect young agile men who can succeed in the Paralympics, but also many civilians who are women, children, and the elderly.
Read the entire article on Anthropology News.
Read more sports-related articles in the new online summer edition of Anthropology News.