Disassembling and Reassembling a Sports Talent


  • Jesper Stilling Olesen Aarhus University
  • Jens Christian Nielsen Aarhus University
  • Dorte Marie Søndergaard




Talent, Talent development, Enactment, Assemblage, Affect, Micropolitics, New materialism


This article is rooted in an understanding of talent as something you do rather than something you either are or have. Talent is hereby seen as a phenomenon that comes into being through actions, rather than as an individualized, inherent capacity. Our perspective is informed by new materialist concepts that analyse talent development as an assemblage. Based on a case study focusing on Jamie, an injured badminton player, we argue that talent development produces a number of affects: it translates potential into a singular talent; it enables the conversion of talent into expertise; it turns doubt into belief; and it impedes other ways of coming into being for the athlete under development. The study provides insight into the micropolitics of talent development and into the ontological, pedagogical and ethical implications for the athlete and all the other actors entangled in a talent assemblage.

Author Biographies

Jens Christian Nielsen, Aarhus University

Associate professor, ph.d. Danish School of Education, Aarhus University

Dorte Marie Søndergaard

Professor, Ph.D, Danish School of Education, Aarhus University


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How to Cite

Olesen, J. S., Nielsen, J. C. and Søndergaard, D. M. (2020) “Disassembling and Reassembling a Sports Talent”, Culture Unbound, 12(2), pp. 311–331. doi: 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.20200526a.