Disability, Empowerment and Paralympic Media: The Politics of Representation

Thu 10 March 2022, 6:30pm - 8:00pm at Online

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.

Accessibility Information

This event will be livestreamed via Zoom, with live BSL interpretation and A.I. generated captioning. Participants will be asked to give an audio description of any images they show. Audience members will be able to ask questions via chat or by talking. A recording of the event will be made available to watch back online.

If you would like to attend and have accessibility needs not addressed by the above, please contact Radar's Programme Coordinator David Bell (d.m.bell@lboro.ac.uk). 

Booking Information

Booking is compulsory but free. Please click here to book via Eventbrite.

Eventbrite processes data outside the EU area. If you would prefer to book without registering on Eventbrite, please email David Bell (d.m.bell@lboro.ac.uk). 

Participant Information

Sophie Hoyle is an artist and writer whose practice explores an intersectional approach to post-colonial, queer, feminist, critical psychiatry and disability issues. Their work looks at the relation of the personal to (and as) political, individual and collective anxieties, and how alliances can be formed where different kinds of inequality and marginalisation intersect. They relate personal experiences of being queer, non-binary and part of the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) diaspora to wider forms of structural violence. From lived experience of psychiatric conditions and trauma, or PTSD, they began to explore the history of biomedical technologies rooted in state and military surveillance and control.

Emma Pullen is a social scientist interested in sport and social inclusion. Emma’s research has focused on disability and Paralympic sport, the development and impact of sport media and broadcast, and gender (feminisms) at the intersection of disability. She is the academic lead for the Gendered Re-Presentations of Disability project.

Christopher Samuel is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice is rooted in identity and disability politics, often echoing the many facets of his own lived experience. Seeking to interrogate his personal understanding of identity as a disabled person impacted by inequality and marginalisation, Christopher responds with urgency, humour, and poetic subversiveness within his work. This approach makes his work accessible to a wider audience, allowing others to identify and relate to a wider spectrum of human experience.

Sam West is a doctoral researcher in Loughborough University’s Storytelling Academy, exploring how movement, vocalisation and digital technology are used for storytelling in contemporary British wrestling. He is co-founder of the theatre-led independent wrestling company Wrestling Resurgence. He previously worked as a curator at Attenborough Arts Centre, University of Leicester, where he developed a programme exploring the politics of the body and identity through performance, film and photography. This included Christopher Samuel’s first solo exhibition, ‘Housing Crisis’, in 2018. 

Event curated by David Bell for Radar. 

Gendered Re-Presentations of Disability is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.ahrc-horiz_logo-blue


Christopher Samuel

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Sophie Hoyle

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Related Projects

Gendered Re-Presentations of Disability

Equality, empowerment and marginalisation in Paralympic media. Read more