Pedaling in pairs toward a ‘dialogical performance’: Partnerships and the sensory body within a tandem cycling group

Gili Hammer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Focusing on social dialogue and the sensory body within a tandem cycling group pairing blind and sighted riders, this article addresses the creation of a ‘dialogical performance’ (Conquergood, 1985), arguing for the ways integrated tandem cycling challenges distinct binary categories, bodily hierarchies, and constructs of social otherness. Based on one year of fieldwork conducted during cycling, I examine the form of ‘togetherness’ this activity creates, as well as the ‘intersensory’ aspects of this activity, discussing the ways it allows group members to critically reflect upon their bodily and sensory identities, and to re-embody sight as an active and somatic sense. Contributing to and integrating disability ethnography, anthropology of the senses, and the sociology of sporting bodies, I examine the ways this mutual experience enriches the meanings of both blindness and sight, and challenges rigid definitions of and boundaries around the senses, social identities, and bodily functions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)503-522
Number of pages20
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I am grateful to Tamar Elor, Geogrina Kleege, Petra Kuppers, Terry Tracy, Adi Finkelstein, and Hodel Ophir for their insightful comments on earlier drafts of this essay, to the anonymous reviewers from Ethnography for their engaged and thoughtful remarks, and to Janet Christensen for her skilled editorial help. The article is based on research made possible by fellowships I received from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, including the Dean’s Fellowship for Excellence in the Faculty of Social Science, The Shaine Centre for Research in Social Sciences, and The Levi Eshkol Economic and Political Research in Israel. It was also funded by a NA‘AMAT Movement of Working Women & Volunteers’ research grant, and the United States – Israel Educational Foundation’s Fulbright Doctoral Student Grant. The essay was written during my postdoctoral research at the University of Michigan, which was funded by the Ginsberg Post-Doctoral Fellowship of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and by a Postdoctoral Fellowship of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and as a Post-Doctoral scholar at UC Berkeley, supported by The Israel Science Foundation(grant No. 183/14). Finally, I would like to thank the participants of the tandem cycling group, who invited me to ride along.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, © The British Association of Hand Therapists Ltd 2014.


  • Israel
  • anthropology of the senses
  • blindness
  • challenging sports
  • cycling
  • dialogue
  • disability
  • performance
  • reflexivity
  • visual culture


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