Bodies of Latent Potential: Abled Imaginary and National Belonging in Finnish Cultural Texts about Swimming

Touko Vaahtera, Sirpa Lappalainen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Drawing on Foucauldian genealogy and the methodological approaches of cultural studies, the authors address the question of how assumptions of citizenship have functioned in Finnish cultural texts on swimming. The analysis is developed from texts from the early twentieth century to the present day. Based on a theoretical approach that combines the perspectives of disability studies and post colonialism, the article traces how the ability to swim has been articulated as a common objective, and as latent potential in everyone. It also shows how assumptions of appropriate behaviour in public pools function in a way that reinforces specific visions of Finnishness. These discussions are rearticulated, and an approach is proposed that encapsulates the functioning of ‘latent potential’. The authors further develop theorizations of ableism that facilitate specific investigation of its connections with orientalism.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPedagogy, Culture and Society
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)593-607
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 516 Educational sciences
  • Cultural Studies
  • orientalism
  • ableism
  • swimming training

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