Settler Colonialism, Sport, and Recreation

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Abstract

Laurendeau interrogates the interconnections between settler colonialism and sport, recreation and physical activity, theorizing sport as a site of ongoing colonial violence and a vital space of resistance, refusal, and reterritorialization. Laurendeau explains that settler colonialism is not a relic of a past moment but an ongoing genocidal project in still-settling states as they perpetually work to claim ownership of and authority over stolen lands as part of a project of capital accumulation. Moreover, Laurendeau highlights that settler colonialism is a fundamentally relational project, structuring the lives not only of Indigenous peoples but of all who live in occupied territories. Sport and recreation, Laurendeau explains, constitute a critical cultural space that produces and/or challenges ideas about bodies, relationships, belonging, nationhood, sovereignty, and more. Drawing primarily but not exclusively on examples unfolding on lands claimed by Canada, Laurendeau describes how sports like lacrosse and hockey, mega-events such as the North American Indigenous Games, and institutions and practices like sports in residential schools illustrate both the violence of settler colonialism and the refusals of that violence. Laurendeau takes an explicitly politicized approach to this work, highlighting the need to dismantle a social world that values profit over people and some people over others, a world that renders lives (of many people, most non-human animals, and the planet itself) expendable in the pursuit of perpetual economic growth.