Dr Rebecca Olive

Honorary Senior Research Fellow

School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences
Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences


Rebecca Olive joined the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences in 2017. Her work about lifestyle and nature sports contributes to critical cultural, social and historical teaching and research relating to sport, physical cultures, bodies, and health. Rebecca publishes in journals and books across Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, Sport Sociology, and Sport History, and has co-edited a book with Holly Thorpe, Women in Action Sport Cultures: Identity, Politics and Experience (2016).

In 2019, she was awarded a DECRA for her project baout human-ocean health, 'Understanding ecological sensibilities in recreational lifestyle sports'. This project explores practices and cultures of ocean swimming and surfing to understand intersections human and environmental health. The project uses ethnographic methods (fieldwork and interviews) to make sense of ocean-swimmers’ and surfers' relationships to sharks, plastics, and localism at a range of urban and regional beaches. You can read more about this work on her Moving Oceans website.

Rebecca also continues focus on issues of equity and diversity and action/lifestyle sports and cultures, in particular women's experiences. Taking a feminist cultural studies approach to theories of power, ethics and pedagogy, she is interested in how we influence cultural change in everyday lived physical cultures towards more inclusive access and participation. Current projects include:

  • Bluespaces and health
  • Nature sports
  • Women in sport, physical activity and leisure practices
  • Self-representation on social media – elite athletes, recreational sports and fitness cultures
  • Feminist research methods

Research Interests

  • Bluespaces and human-ocean health
  • Women, gender and recreational lifestyle sports
  • Localism and settler-colonial politics in sport
  • Sport, health and social media
  • Feminist ethnographic research methods

Research Impacts

Rebecca's research engages with questions of power, ethics, and pedagogy in everyday life including online, and is driven by a commitment to community engagement. She is interested in how cultural change happens and ensure research intersects with teaching, policy, media, and community. As well as scholarly publications, Rebecca is committed to connecting teaching and research, and has developed a presence in cultural media and communities relevant to her research in coastal cultures, recreational lifestyle sports, social media, and ethnographic methods. Rebecca has had stories and interviews published with ABC news and radio, is a regular contributor to surf media and festivals, and writes her blog, Making Friends With the Neighbours.

Since 2018, Rebecca has been a Research Fellow with AustLit, compiling data sets about 'swimming wild' and surfing in Australian literature. These ongoing projects are producing publicly available archives of swimming and surfing sources, as well as a list of relevant scholarship. You can explore the project and resources via the AustLit site.

Recent conference organisation:

  • Co-convener, Moving Futures: Researching bodies and health in the 21st century, Centre for Sport and Society, The University of Queensland, 14 November 2017
  • Co-organiser, Technicity. Temporality. Embodiment. Somatechnics conference, Byron Bay, Australia, 1-3 December 2016
  • Co-convener, Surfing social: Challenging surfer identities and spaces, Raglan, NZ, 10-12 Feb 2016
  • Convener, The Future of Cycling: Challenges and Possibilities, Cambridge, NZ, October 1-2 2015
  • Convener, The University of Waikato Gender Research Network, 2015
  • Organising committee for The University of Waikato, Women in Leadership Day, 2015


  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor (Honours) of Arts, Southern Cross University
  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Sydney


View all Publications


View all Grants


  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision



Book Chapter

  • Olive, Rebecca (2023). How to swim without water: swimming as an ecological sensibility. Living with water: Everyday encounters and liquid connections. (pp. 235-253) edited by Kate Moles and Charlotte Bates. Manchester, United Kingdom: Manchester University Press. doi: 10.7765/9781526161734.00029

  • Olive, Rebecca (2020). Thinking the social through myself: reflexivity in research practice. Research Methods in Outdoor Studies. (pp. 121-129) edited by Barbara Humberstone and Heather Prince. London, United Kingdom: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9780429199004-12

  • Britton, Easkey, Olive, Rebecca and Wheaton, Belinda (2019). Surfers and leisure: 'Freedom' to surf? Contested spaces on the coast. Living with the sea: knowledge, awareness and action. (pp. 147-166) edited by Mike Brown and Kimberley Peters. Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781315161839-10

  • Olive, Rebecca and Thorpe, Holly (2018). Feminist ethnography and physical culture: towards reflexive, political, and collaborative methods. Physical culture, ethnography, and the body: theory, method, and praxis. (pp. 114-128) edited by Michael D. Giardina and Michele K. Donnelly. London, United Kingdom: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781315266602-7

  • Olive, Rebecca, Roy, Georgina and Wheaton, Belinda (2018). Stories of surfing: surfing, space and subjectivity/intersectionality. Surfing, sex, genders and sexualities. (pp. 148-167) edited by lisahunter. Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781315201238

  • Olive, Rebecca (2018). Un/intentional pedagogies: impacts of feminist ethics and methods in practice. The Palgrave handbook of feminism and sport, leisure and physical education. (pp. 335-349) edited by Louise Mansfield, Jayne Caudwell, Belinda Wheaton and Beccy Watson. London, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1057/978-1-137-53318-0_21

  • Lazarow, Neil and Olive, Rebecca (2017). Culture, meaning and sustainability in surfing. Sustainable surfing. (pp. 202-218) edited by Gregory Borne and Jess Ponting. Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781315680231-13

  • Olive, Rebecca (2017). The political imperative of feminism. Routledge handbook of physical cultural studies. (pp. 51-60) edited by Michael L. Silk, David L. Andrews and Holly Thorpe. London: Routledge.

  • Thorpe, Holly and Olive, Rebecca (2016). Conducting observations in sport and exercise settings. Routledge handbook of qualitative research in sport and exercise. (pp. 124-138) edited by Brett Smith and Andrew C. Sparkes. London, United Kingdom: Routledge.

  • Thorpe, Holly, Olive, Rebecca, Beal, Becky, Booth, Douglas, Laurendeau, Jason, Palmer, Catherine, Rinehart, Robert E. and Wheaton, Belinda (2016). Looking back, moving forward? reflections from early action sport researchers. Women in action sport cultures: identity, politics and experience. (pp. 23-44) edited by Holly Thorpe and Rebecca Olive. London, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1057/978-1-137-45797-4_2

  • Olive, Rebecca, Thorpe, Holly, Roy, Georgina, Nemani, Mihi, lisahunter, Wheaton, Belinda and Humberstone, Barbara (2016). Surfing together: exploring the potential of a collaborative ethnographic moment. Women in action sport cultures: identity, politics and experience. (pp. 45-68) edited by Holly Thorpe and Rebecca Olive. London, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1057/978-1-137-45797-4_3

  • Olive, Rebecca (2016). Surfing, localism, place-based pedagogies, and ecological sensibilities in Australia. Routledge international handbook of outdoor studies. (pp. 501-510) edited by Barbara Humberstone, Heather Prince and Karla A. Henderson. Abingdon, Oxon, UK: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781315768465-56

  • Olive, Rebecca (2016). Women who surf: female difference, intersecting subjectivities and cultural pedagogies. The pedagogies of cultural studies. (pp. 179-195) edited by Andrew Hickey. New York, NY United States: Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781315689739

  • Olive, Rebecca (2015). Interactivity, blogs, and the ethics of doing sport history. Sport history in the digital era. (pp. 157-179) edited by Gary Osmond and Murray G. Phillips. Champaign, IL, USA: University of Illinois Press.

  • Olive, Rebecca (2009). Expression session. Wax On: From Cronulla to Palm Beach and Beyond. (pp. 10-11) edited by Daniel Mudie Cunningham. Gymea, NSW: Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision