Enacting Bodies: The Multiplicity of Whey Protein and the Making of Corporealities
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This chapter is situated within the long and diverse tradition of Sport Studies scholarship focused on how best to conceptualize the body. Drawing on the work of Science and Technology Studies (STS) scholar, Annemarie Mol, we contrast a perspectival approach, in which bodies are articulated as singular, passive things about which people hold different views (the dominant orientation in the disciplines of kinesiology and sport science today), with an ontological approach that centres bodies as they come into being—or fall apart—through practices. In advocating for a focus on practice, and the multiplicity of objects it implies, Mol seeks to show how different versions of bodies are coordinated in different locations and thus how they might be enacted otherwise. We put Mol’s ideas to work in our ongoing study of whey protein powder, a nutritional supplement best known for enacting fit bodies. Tracing whey’s multiplicity, and its shift from toxic byproduct of dairy production to ostensibly healthy commodity, helps trouble notions of individual, physically bounded, human embodiment. “Following” whey has also led us to broader considerations of body-environment relations, thereby extending the scope of Mol’s work and demonstrating the ecological embeddedness of the moving body in sport and physical culture.
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