Sport, genetics and the `natural athlete': The resurgence of racial science

St Louis, Brett. 2003. Sport, genetics and the `natural athlete': The resurgence of racial science. Body & Society, 9(2), pp. 75-95. ISSN 1357034X [Article]

Text (postprint)
SOC_StLouis_2007a.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (92kB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

This article explores the ethical implications of recent discussions that naturalize the relationship between race, the body and sport within the frame of genetic science. Many suggestions of a racially distributed genetic basis for athletic ability and performance are strategically posited as a resounding critique of the `politically correct' meta-narratives of established sociological and anthropological forms of explanation that emphasize the social and cultural construction of race. I argue that this use of genetic science in order to describe and explain common-sense impressions of racial physiology and sporting ability is founded on erroneous premises of objectivity and disinterest, and inflates the analytical efficacy of scientific truth claims. I suggest that assertions of a value-free science of racial athletic ability reify race as inherited permanent biological characteristics that produce social hierarchies and are more characteristic of a longer history of `racial science'.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


bioculturalism, difference, ethics, racism, representation

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



1 June 2003Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

12 Mar 2009 15:42

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:30

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)