1st Edition

Skateboarding and the Senses Skills, Surfaces, and Spaces

By Sander Hölsgens, Brian Glenney Copyright 2025
    112 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book presents a new perspective on skateboarding, centred on the senses, skill acquisition, embodiment, and the concept of ‘city craft’. 

    Skateboarding and the Senses traces how skaters use their skilled bodies to bring vitality to contested spaces. Building on sensory anthropology, the book draws connections between the diverse ways skaters move and their boundless drive for social action – from rebellious interventionism to a critical engagement with sportification and the Olympics. Coalescing around skateboarding’s pedagogy of enskilment, the book examines what to make of the skater’s way of sensing the city, of their bruised heels and scabbed elbows, of their sensory attunement to their friends and foes. Grounded in historical, anthropological, and phenomenological theories of body and space, it examines how skaters acquire somatic knowledge and socio-emotional resilience through their sonic and vibratory experience of the city streets. This sensory anthropology of skateboarding reveals new insights into its long arc of subculture, lifestyle, and sport. 

    This is essential reading for anybody with an interest in the sociology, culture or history of sport, urban geographies, sensory studies, or social and cultural anthropology.

    1. A Magical Bind: Writing Skate Culture

    2. The Skater’s Body: A Sensory Anthropology of Sideways Movement

    3. Crafting the City: Embodied, Symbolic, and Engaged Skateboarding

    4. Failure and the Senses: A Skate Pedagogy of Care and Resilience

    5. Grey Pleasure: Skateboarding As a Deviant and Salubrious Ecology

    6. Epilogue: Towards a Multispecies Futurity for Skateboarding


    Sander Hölsgens is Assistant Professor in Anthropology at Leiden University, The Netherlands. He is a co-director of Pushing Boarders, a platform and international conference tracing the social impact of skateboarding worldwide. His popular writing on skateboarding has appeared in Skateism, Vice, and Jenkem. Together with Miriam Waltz and Mandy de Wilde, he currently runs the research project ‘Tracing pollution: practicing the anthropology of the more-than-human’ (2023-2029). 

    Brian Glenney is Associate Professor in Philosophy at Norwich University in Vermont, USA. He works in both the fields of philosophy of perception and spatial justice. He is the co-editor of two volumes in Routledge’s Rewriting the History of Philosophy Book Series: Molyneux’s Question and the History of Philosophy and The Senses and the History of Philosophy and has written several peer-reviewed articles on spatial justice and skateboarding.