Dr Rebecca Olive


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 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, Media 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).

Rebecca’s research explores recreational physical cultures in the field and on social media. Her work has focused on women and action/lifestyle sports and cultures, with a particular interest in surfing and the beach. 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 representation and participation. Current projects include:

  • Women and action/lifestyle sports
  • Surfing and social justice programs
  • Action/lifestyle sports as colonising practices
  • Self-representation on social media – elite athletes, recreational sports and fitness cultures
  • Using social media as a research method

Research Interests

  • Women and action/lifestyle sports
  • Surfing and social justice programs
  • Action/lifestyle sports as colonising practices
  • Self-representation on social media
    elite athletes, recreational sports and fitness cultures
  • Using social media as a research method

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. She 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 a data set about surfing through Australian literature. This is an ongoing project that is producing a publicly available archive of 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


  • Bachelor of Arts, The University of Sydney
  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland


View all Publications


View all Grants


  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision



Book Chapter

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

  • Olive, Rebecca (2019). Thinking the social through myself: Reflexivity in research practice. In Barbara Humberstone and Heather Prince (Ed.), Research Methods in Outdoor Studies (pp. 121-129) London, United Kingdom: Routledge.

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

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

  • Lazarow, Neil and Olive, Rebecca (2017). Culture, meaning and sustainability in surfing. In Gregory Bourne and Jess Ponting (Ed.), Sustainable surfing (pp. 202-218) London: Routledge.

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

  • Olive, Rebecca (2017). Un/intentional pedagogies: impacts of feminist ethics and methods in practice. In Louise Mansfield, Jayne Caudwell, Belinda Wheaton and Beccy Watson (Ed.), The Palgrave handbook of feminism and sport, leisure and physical education (pp. 335-349) London, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Thorpe, Holly and Olive, Rebecca (2016). Conducting observations in sport and exercise settings. In Brett Smith and Andrew C. Sparkes (Ed.), Routledge handbook of qualitative research in sport and exercise (pp. 124-138) 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. In Holly Thorpe and Rebecca Olive (Ed.), Women in action sport cultures: identity, politics and experience (pp. 23-44) 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. In Holly Thorpe and Rebecca Olive (Ed.), Women in action sport cultures: power, identity and experience (pp. 45-68) 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. In Barbara Humberstone, Heather Prince and Karla A. Henderson (Ed.), Routledge international handbook of outdoor studies (pp. 501-510) Abingdon, Oxon, UK: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781315768465

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

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

  • Olive, Rebecca (2009). Expression session. In Daniel Mudie Cunningham (Ed.), Wax On: From Cronulla to Palm Beach and Beyond (pp. 10-11) 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 — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor