Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Heather Dillaway


Women's flat track roller derby is a growing niche sport that has gathered much attention from media and academics alike. Previous research has analyzed the sport from a gendered view with limited focus on bodies in the broader sense. I attempt to fill this gap in the literature by asking: How do derby skaters define the derby body? In what ways do skaters resist and/or accommodate conventional bodily norms and those within derby? Utilizing an ethnographic repertoire of observation, interviews, and autoethnography, I examine the experiences of women derby skaters for a local flat track league located in the Midwest. Drawing from literature on gender and sport, resistance, and embodiment, I argue that skaters engage with a series of tensions and contradictions between societal norms and derby values, specifically those related to body size, athleticism, public versus private spaces, and the role of non-(born) women in the sport.