Faculty Colloquium IV: Sandra Meeuwsen

woensdag 24 nov 2021, 16:00 - 17:30
Gesproken taal
Polak Y2-14
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Sport, vitalism and repression

Sport promotes health, endeavors social cohesion and offers many people meaningful work, either as volunteers or professionals. A popular view says: 'Empty churches, full stadiums'; in this view, modern sports would be a welcome substitute for traditional religion. At the same time, this social practice seems to collapse under a growing number of excesses, like violence, cheating, racism, doping, sexual harassment, not to forget undermining and match-fixing. How should we comprehend this ongoing transgressive dimension in modern sports? Are these distortions to be qualified as ‘extraneous’ or do they come from inside? If so, what truth lies in modern sports’ downside?

From a post-lacanian perspective, Sandra Meeuwsen puts modern sport on the proverbial divan. What desire drives the very practice of modern sports and if so; which 'petit objet a' is hidden beneath this irrepressible existential yearning? How to consider the structural impact of the body-subject’s division in this bodily practice? Using a psychoanalytic perspective, Sandra will show that that an 'immanence vitale' is lost in this quest for fulfilment through sport. Through an archaeological analysis in the tradition of Foucault and Agamben, she will also explain how the vital, sacred archè of sport has been supplanted by an economic control paradigm, rapidly sacrificing modern sports. Systemic repression and disembodiment are the results, provoking a conative excessive strive. The undesirable implications of sport as biopolitics are not only revealed in the countless abuses, but also in the current political call in the Netherlands for a ‘Sport Law’, a specific legal framework that would excerpt this realm even more. Sandra will debunk this self-created ‘state-of-exception’ of modern sports down to its very essence (being demand), to this secret chora of sport, where impotence (adynamia) lives. In conclusion, she will argue that right now we need to welcome the inevitable phase towards a new ‘form-of-sport’.

About the speaker


Sandra Meeuwsen (Curaçao, 1966) obtained her Master's degree in philosophy in 1990 at Radboud University Nijmegen, graduating on Wittgenstein's Tractatus. At university, she discovered track and field running, later expanded to triathlon (1984-1997), in which she performed nationally on top 10 level and took up training and coaching. Since 1994 Sandra is employed in sports policy, starting at the Dutch Olympic Committee (NOC*NSF), where she became a senior staff member in political-strategic issues. From 2008 she opted for an independent position as change manager at national policy partners, sports federations, municipalities, sports industry and ministries. Since 2012 she has been teaching philosophy of science and ethics at the Master Strategy & Leadership (AOG School of Management) and the Executive MBA Sports & Health at Wagner Graduate School.

Sandra defended her dissertation 'Critique of Sports Reason; a Philosophical Archaeology of Modern Sports' Sept 24th 2020 at Philosophy and Moral Sciences, Free University of Brussels, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Marc Van den Bossche. This doctoral research offers the prelude to a critical continental philosophical approach in the philosophy of sport, supporting both other scientific disciplines and policy practice in sport. As of Jan 2022, Sandra will lead the 'Erasmus Centre for Sport Integrity & Transition' from ESPhil.

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