Disability, Empowerment and Paralympic Media: The Politics of Representation


A discussion event bringing together artists and academic researchers to discuss the contested politics of Paralympic representation

Every four years the Paralympics are widely celebrated for increasing the visibility of disability sport and challenging popular perceptions about disability. The Tokyo 2020 Games (held in 2021 due to COVID) attracted the biggest television audience of any Paralympics, across more countries than any previous games. It attracted praise for its digital accessibility, with audience engagement encouraged through Snapchat, Tiktok and Instagram; and for diversifying disability representation, with a spotlight on the growing number of LGBT+ and racialized athletes competing.

But perhaps there's a need for caution amidst this celebration. What kinds of disabled sporting bodies are(n’t) celebrated through broadcast and social media? How does this centre different forms of disability diversity? And how does the nationalism of the Paralympics relate to intersections of disability, race, class, gender and sexuality?

As part of the ‘Gendered Re-Presentations of Disability’ research project, artists Christopher Samuel and Sophie Hoyle are drawing on research undertaken by Emma Pullen and Laura Mora from Loughborough University’s School of Sports, Exercise and Health Science on the production of new work interrogating the power dynamics of Paralympic representation. This online event brings Samuel, Hoyle and Pullen together with curator and researcher Sam West to discuss their hopes for the project, and what artistic methods can tell us about issues of disability, representation, power and sport.

Samuel and Hoyle’s final works will be exhibited at the project’s closing event at Loughborough University London in summer 2022, and for a limited period on Radar’s website.

Find out more about this Radar project.

This event will be livestreamed via Zoom, with live BSL interpretation and A.I. generated captioning.

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