Award Date

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Barbara Brents

Second Committee Member

Robert Futrell

Third Committee Member

Kathryn Hausbeck Korgan

Fourth Committee Member

Lynn Comella

Number of Pages



In this dissertation project I use the case of women’s roller derby to examine gender resistance in spaces produced and dominated by women. I examine the challenges and strategies roller derby participants deploy in resistance to the gender binary and its gender mandates, and whether or not these strategies and cultural expressions are oppositional or political. Through a combination of ethnography, participant-observation, semi-structured interviews, and analysis of web and print media on roller derby, I explain how women’s roller derby participants construct identity, varying types of femininities, and engage in forms of cultural resistance through their sport. I analyze the political and cultural challenges skaters and the sport of roller derby pose to the gender binary, mainstream gender expectations, and understandings of femininity and sexuality, and investigate how those challenges manifest at the level of individual identity, roller derby organization, and roller derby cultural symbolism. I argue that the skaters’ embodied practices challenge and disrupt notions of gender, sexuality, body, and identity.


Gender; Identity; Resistance; Sexuality; Social Change; Sport


Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Sociology