This paper presents a cultural analysis of our field of study through the lens of one word: kinesiology. Through historical, anthropological, and semiological interpretation, the cultural use of the word is discussed within the academic field of physical activity studies in North America. The study of the use, or the philology, of kinesiology within the study of physical activity is traced from its traditionally recognized Greek roots to the present cultural use, which is shown to symbolize the postmodern world. The progression from which kinesiology evolved, fist describing a “course of study, ” then meaning a broad academic field, is noted. Throughout the term’s existence in the field, common motifs associated with its use are highlighted. These motifs include coupling of the modem word to ancient Greek origins; the signification of “action, ” “change, ” “unique, ” and “special” aspects; the use of the word to denote scientific, disciplinary, and academic characteristics; and the appropriation of the word to symbolize integration and wholeness.
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