Swimming outside the box: Rethinking the mundanity of the municipal pool

Dr Penelope Rossiter1

1Western Sydney University, Sydney, Australia


There is a flourishing contemporary interest in the contributions of blue spaces to human well-being. Although ‘wild swimming’ in oceans and inland waterways has seized the public imagination for its aesthetic and salutogenic affordances, outdoor pool swimming, is neglected. It is seen as ‘unnatural’, a mundane following of the black line in a chlorinated box.

This paper draws on research conducted with regular swimmers at an outdoor municipal pool and on the work of E.S. Casey on place, and the glance, to focus on what these assumptions about pool swimming neglect: the moving involvement of humans with the ‘weather world’, with water, animals, materials, objects and other humans. Glancing-swimming bodies experience, and seek out, both sustained and fleeting moments of ecological intimacy: they swim ‘outside the box’. And these complex entanglements afford swimming bodies in outdoor pools novel ways of being with place.

Penelope Rossiter is a Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Social Analysis at Western Sydney University. Her current research focuses on the outdoor municipal pool in Australia, as social infrastructure and emotional geography, combined with a phenomenological study of swimming bodies.


Dr Penelope Rossiter is a  senior lecturer in cultural and social analysis. Her research and teaching is interdisciplinary. Her two current research projects focus, quite differently, on questions of place, embodiment, representation, emotion and affects. The first combines a phenomenological study of bodies that swim with research on the outdoor municipal pool in Australia. The second focuses on Western Sydney and media representations of place, poverty and disadvantage from the comedy of ‘Housos’ to the reality-TV of ‘Struggle Street’.


The impact of sport mega events on cities and societies

Miss Laura Brown1

1Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom


The practise of sport and exercise has historic and social importance grounded in ancient Greek civilisation. The continued practise of sport and exercise through the ages, and its existing role in contemporary society, highlights the cultural significance of sport and exercise in modern contexts. Sport does not require infrastructure to take place, yet sports grounds and buildings have increasingly achieved monumental status, playing a major role in the cultural heritage of cities. Stadium architecture has its own distinctive typology, expressing the significance of sport and the stadium to society, and providing an environment in which people can gather to share common values. In recent decades a shift in the calibre and construction of stadia has been observed, in particular, in stadia constructed for sport mega events (SME). The new construction and revitalisation of venues in a city preparing to host a SME results in long term impact on the urban fabric, with the potential to leverage broad-reaching benefits for the community. This paper examines the role of sport infrastructure in our cities and societies. Identifying, in the case of the largest SME in the World, the Summer Olympic Games, the long-term impacts of sport infrastructure on cities, culture and society.


Qualifications: BTEC Diploma in Art & Design (Photography), BSc (Hons) Sport & Exercise Development, BA (Hons) Architecture, MArch in Architecture, PhD (Viva Voce Examination in April 2019) ‘The urban & architectural legacies of the European Summer Olympic Games 1948-2012’.

Current Role: Vice Chancellor’s Fellow, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Teaching: Undergraduate Architecture & Interior Architecture; Studio Design Projects; History & Theory; Cultural Contexts; Architectural Communications. Research Interests: Olympic Games, Sport Mega Events, Architectural Quality, Urban Design, Social, Cultural, and Health Impacts & Benefits of Environments, Cultural Heritage, Physical Activity Participation, Space & Place.

Sport spaces as sites of multiculturalism: A neighbourhood study examining experiences of diversity and belonging

Mrs Jora Broerse1

1Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia


Multiculturalism and the management of diversity are of growing personal and political importance due to changing demographic urban settings. This presentation discusses ethnographic data and explores how people in Footscray, Melbourne, engage with ethnic and cultural diversity through sport participation. The neighbourhood public sites selected for this research represent the wide range of sports activities organised in this area: a community club, gyms/boxing clubs, local city council activities, and informal/self-organised sport activities. The aim of this study is twofold. Firstly, using an everyday multiculturalism approach, I explore how, why and to what extent everyday face-to-face interactions in sport spaces form a basis for identity construction and experiences of (local) belonging. Secondly, following a human geographic approach, I ask who uses which public sport spaces and how these places are shared and how potential intercultural encounters play out. This research ultimately aims at further developing the anthropology of the spatiality and movement of sporting bodies in highly diverse urban areas.


Jora Broerse is a PhD candidate in Sociology at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia. Her research is concerned with lived multiculturalism, migrant integration, and space making practices in the context of sport in super-diverse neighbourhoods

The virtual and physical spaces of powerlifting for women: attempted escapes from neoliberal affects

Dr Adele Pavlidis1, Ms Erin Nichols1

1Griffith University, Parklands, Australia


In recent times there has been a definite shift in the ways sport spaces are being (re)configured. From a site of slim, lean, feminine bodies, to a space of heavy weights and competitive strength training. These new gym spaces, I argue, are not spaces of hope, or Lorna Jane adages of optimism. The women in these gyms are not the bouncy figures of neoliberal success. Their pathways into competitive powerlifting follow different logics: for some they begin with a desire for slimness, and end with a desire for muscle, expansion. What their body looks like becomes secondary to what their bodies can do.

Once they enter these spaces they are aware of the ways that spatiality enables different types of subjectivity. They can grunt and groan under the strain of the heavy weights. They can use their phones to take video and load it to their Instagram sites to show form, emplacement, and progress over time.

No, these gyms are not spaces of hope. But they are a refuge.  The spatiality of powerlifting – virtual and physical – create affective atmospheres of possibility. What a body can do, turning away from neoliberal imperatives of happiness and positivity, are within reach.


Adele Pavlidis was awarded her PhD (Griffith University) in 2013 and is currently an ARC DECRA Fellow, based on the Gold Coast at the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research. She is author of two books and several articles that traverse the field of feminist leisure, sport, health, geography and sociology. She is particularly interested in pursuing theory and concepts that might work to disrupt binary thinking in relation to physical cultures. In 2017 she had the honour of delivering the Fay Gale Memorial Lecture at the IAG conference.

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