Spectacle, sport and subjectivity: aesthetic (dis)embodiment and the Invictus Games

Research output: Working paper


The brainchild of Prince Harry, the Invictus Games claims to harness “the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick service personnel”. The Games are thus positioned as a virtuous transformative and restorative process that is enacted on, within and through Invictus participants’ bodies and identities. This paper explores how these identities are mobilised via a troubling binary logic of disembodiment/embodiment that is traversed with contradictions and perpetuates everyday militarisation through the aesthetic spectacle that is Invictus. While disembodiment is primarily and problematically enacted in the form of physical/mental injury, Invictus serves as a moment of re-embodiment for participants, the military family(ies) and the public at large. Spectacularisation, aestheticisation and commercialisation combine through this (dis)embodiment logic in powerful, affective ways to feed into and shore up a wider circuitry of power that encourages an unquestionable acceptance of militarised spheres. From the aesthetic of the prosthetic to celebrity endorsement in the opening and closing ceremonies; from primetime television coverage to the Obama-Windsor-Trudeau mic drop videos; from Invictus merchandise to Walt Disney hosting, this paper interrogates the tensions embedded in Invictus’ undoing and remaking of a particular aestheticised military/militarised subject.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusIn preparation - 2017


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