Fitness vs. Fizkul’tura: Nike and the Unfit Body in Moscow

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Ben Krupp


This article examines Nike’s unique marketing in Moscow. Since 2012, Nike has treated
Moscow as distinct among its global hubs. It has committed noticeable resources to
operating public fitness classes, building public recreational facilities, and sponsoring
a state fitness program “Gotov k trudu i oborone” (Ready for labor and defense). In all of
these strategies, Nike is pursuing access to the bodies of Russian citizens as its primary
objective. I argue that this intimate access to Russian bodies is being sought by Nike in
an attempt to disseminate new ways of thinking about the body that open up new risk
markets and make the body more available to global capital circuits. But while these
new ontologies of the body are meant to erase local and historical ways of understanding,
in colonizing Soviet forms of cultural production Nike has inherited many of the
socialist relationships between individual health and social well-being. The result is the
development of a local way of understanding the body that is an entanglement of socialist
past and neoliberal present. This article draws on nine months of ethnographic research
in spaces of public recreation in Moscow (gyms, parks, and public schools) conducted
between 2016 and 2020.

Article in English

DOI: 10.25285/2078-1938-2021-13-1-81-103


Fitness, Biopolitics, Health, Sports, Body, Corporation, Nike

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