‘Using the pen as a weapon’
Annecka Marshall’s analogy about ‘using the pen as a weapon’ (1994: 107) stemmed from her desire to deconstruct the dominant representation of African Caribbean women and reconstruct narratives that better spoke to their lived materiality. Seamus Heaney in his poem ‘Digging’ used a similar analogy linking a ‘gun’ to a ‘pen’ to ‘dig’ into his past. I borrow from both these analogies, using my ‘pen’ to confront the multiply constituted dynamics that have positioned me as an outsider within the white, middle-class and male spaces of academia, both inside and beyond studies of sport. As one of the few women of British Asian heritage, let alone any other minoritised ethnic other, I have been studying and working within the sociocultural field of sport and leisure studies for 20 years (at the time of writing this chapter). This history has given me valuable insights into the dynamics of working within this field which I wish to share for/with other Black scholars, male or female, in order to also support their entry and progression within this highly competitive and vast international field. In writing this chapter, I wish to convey that I do not see my position as fixed and/or immobile. Using theories and concepts relating to the works of scholars such as Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks and Audre Lorde, I articulate my research praxis as an act of resistance in and of itself. The autobiographical stories included in this chapter specifically relate back to my early experiences of being the only Black person studying an undergraduate programme of sport, and also the wider significance of language. Through the critical interrogation of my personal history, I use my voice to lay bare the tensions, struggles and challenges I have encountered, overcome and which I am still confronting. In conclusion I argue that to explore and to expose established hegemonies in our academic communities, we must continually (re)open channels for mutual support and dialogue in order to foster new and different solidarities in and through our sporting research and scholarship.