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England’s proxy warriors? Women, war and sport

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journal contribution
posted on 28.10.2016, 10:24 by Alison K. Bowes, Alan Bairner
It has been claimed that the one place Englishness exists in on the sports field (Robinson, 2008), and often it is men’s sport that appears central to creating a sense of English national identity (Tuck, 2003). However, in light of England’s recent sporting success across multiple women’s sports (namely cricket, netball, association football and rugby union), there warrants a need to begin to question the place of these women in discussions of the nation (Bairner, 2015). Drawing on extensive interview data with women who have represented England at sport, this paper seeks to ‘give a voice’ to these women whose experiences have often been ignored by both the popular press and academics alike. This research discusses the way in which English women represent their nation, both on the field of play and more broadly, and sheds light on the complexity of the intersections of gender and national identity. It is argued that, through playing international, representative sport, the women actively embody the nation, with national identity often overriding gendered identity in these instances. In this sense, they become proxy warriors for the nation.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

International Review for the Sociology of Sport


BOWES, A.K. and BAIRNER, A., 2018. England’s proxy warriors? Women, war and sport. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 53(4), pp. 393-410.


© The Authors. Published by Sage.


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This paper was accepted for publication in the journal International Review for the Sociology of Sport and the definitive published version is available at








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