Racialized osteology and athletic aptitude, or “black” bones as red herrings

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Research about “black” bones generated within the fields of craniometry, forensic anthropology, and sport science affects ideas about the suitability of “black” bodies for collision and aquatic sports. The belief that people of African descent have thicker, denser bones presupposes an attribute that allegedly guards against fracture but impedes buoyancy: “black” bones are less likely to break and more likely to sink. The mythology of strong black bones stokes ideas about black “hardiness,” an imaginary that at once dehumanizes groups and individuals as it holds them up as superhuman beings. Ultimately, the unqualified and uncritical ossification of racial categories in sport studies and allied fields perpetuate pernicious racial stereotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-346
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Sport History
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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