Gender Centre
Mara Lin Visser

Roller Girls: Performance of Gender in the Roller Derby Community of Barcelona. A visual ethnography in process

Mara Lin Visser
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Room P3 506 Maison de la paix, Geneva

Roller derby is a rapidly growing full-contact sport meanly practiced by women. In this research, Mara Lin Visser explores the gender diversity within the Roller Derby Barcelona community through performance, dress, movement and the body. Through participant observation, interviews and visual methods like re-enactment and photo elicitation, she identifies that the “roller girls” perform an alternative gender identity, which is encouraged by the community through the construction of a ‘derby identity’ and a training program called ‘fresh meat’. Although this work is mainly focused on gender expression, it will also assess how the community’s diversity in broader terms (race, ability, class) are prioritised and realised.

About the author

Mara Lin Visser is a visual anthropologist and filmmaker. Currently she is a Visiting Researcher at the Research Group of the Cross-cultural Study of Kinship at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, starting up a research on queer communities. She is a Media Studies instructor at Afilm. And she is part of the collective ethnovision, which aims to bridge the knowledge gap between academics and a wider audience using the power of audiovisual research methods.

Mara Lin considers the camera a strong tool to conduct research with, as it can gain insights into social constructions and relations which are normally difficult to access. The most interesting part of visual research is connecting with people; making them feel comfortable, enhancing the protagonist’s freedom to tell their own stories in their own way.

Within the Gender Seminar Series

The purpose of this seminar is to offer a platform of exchange for students, doctoral students in particular, whose work encompasses a gender perspective. During this monthly series, students will have the opportunity to discuss their work, meet peers from different disciplines at IHEID, as well as interact with guest speakers and faculty members.