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Brown Bodies, Racialisation and Physical Education

This article explores how school physical education (PE) can both reinforce stereotyped notions of the brown body as inherently physical while also allowing young people to gain educational success. Drawing on a critical ethnographic study of Māori and Pasifika (Pacific Island) youth in PE in New Zealand, the article explores how the academic status of PE, and its alignment with sport, positions the brown bodies of these youth in problematic and stereotypical ways. While PE may reinforce racialized stereotypes, it is also a space of recognition and achievement for youth. Bourdieu’s notions of capital, field and habitus provide insight into how such contradictions potentially offer social transformation while simultaneously reproducing social status.