School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


Dr David Howe BSc, MA, PhD

Photo of Dr David Howe

David is Reader in Social Anthropology of Sport.

He graduated from Trent University (Canada) with an BSc honours in general anthropology in 1989.

In 1991 David was awarded a MA in social/cultural anthropology at the University of Toronto. After moving to the UK to undertake a PhD in medical anthropology at UCL he was awarded this degree in 1997 for his work examining the social implications of the professionalisation of sports medicine.

He joined the staff of Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education (subsequently the University of Gloucestershire) in 1997 in the School of Sport and Leisure as Lecturer then Senior Lecturer in the Anthropology of Sport.

Before arriving at Loughborough in January 2006 David spent two years as Senior Lecturer in Sport and Leisure Cultures at the Chelsea School, University of Brighton.

David's research interests are broadly focused on culture and policy as they relate to sport and physical activity. The main aim of David’s research is to use ethnographic methods to ‘get under the skin’ of sport and physical activity cultures and disseminate knowledge to community member and the public in hope that an increase in understanding of the environments in which we engage in such practices will ultimately enhance people’s quality of life. As a result of these interest and his focus on issues related to disability, David is series editor of Disability Sport and Physical Activity Cultures with Routledge.

Specifically, David’s research is theoretically informed by social theories of embodiment, notably those developed by Bourdieu, Foucault and Merleau-Ponty while also paying close attention to historical and ethical issues. There are several strands to David’s research. The first of these strands is part of the broad field of Adapted Physical Activity (APA) where David is interested in the impaired sporting body, health and identity. This area of work is being developed through a life-long involvement in, and commitment to, the Paralympic sporting movement. Long-term participant observation as athlete and administrator and latterly journalist and coach, has facilitated access to this rapidly changing sporting environment. Because of this research interest David is lead in the school’s Loughborough University Olympic and Paralympic Research Cluster which is part of the school’s Participation theme. The second strand of David's research is more broadly focused on the relationship between the body and culture in sport and leisure.  David has conducted research on the body in relation to pain and injury, running bodies and the body in leisure spaces like English public houses to name a few. This research continues to be conducted using an embodied anthropological perspective.

David would be happy to hear from potential PhD students who are eager to explore culture and policy as it relates to sport and physical activity provision.

  • International Paralympic Committee – Sport Science Committee – Consultant (2015 – present)
  • Founding Member of the European Network Sport and Disabilities. Sport and Citizenship: sport serving society.
  • Adjunct Research Professor in the School of Kinesiology at Western University, London, Canada (2016-2021)
  • Adjunct Professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada (2014 - 2018)
  • Guest Professor on the Erasmus Mundus Masters in Adaptive Physical Activity at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium (2007- present).
  • Editorial Board Member
    • Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly (2011- present)
    • European Journal of Adapted Physical Activity (2009 – present)
    • International Review for the Sociology of Sport (2013 - present)
    • Diagoras:  International  Academic  Journal  on  Olympic  Studies (2017 – present)


  • Kerr, S. & Howe, P. D. (2017). ‘Using Disability Studies to Ground High-Quality Paralympic Research’. Diagoras:  International  Academic  Journal  on  Olympic  Studies,  1,  117–134. Available  from
  • Howe, P.D.  and Silva, C. F. (2017) ‘Challenging “Normalcy”: possibilities and pitfalls of Paralympic Bodies’ in South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation. Vol. 39(1-2): 191-204.
  • Howe, P.D.  and Silva, C. F. (2017) ‘The Cyborgification of Paralympic Sport’ in Movement & Sport Sciences.
  • Howe, P. D. (2017) ‘Athlete, Anthropologist and Advocate: moving toward a lifeworld where difference is celebrated’ Sport and Society:Culture, Commerce, Media, Politics. doi/full/10.1080/17430437.2016.1273628