A revolutionary approach to physical culture

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Historians interested in interwar European sports have typically examined state-sponsored physical cultural programmes within one nation and identified tropes of ‘fascist athletes, ' ‘socialist/communist athletes, ' and ‘democratic athletes, ' each trope laden with its own deeply contradictory ideas about athleticism. In this chapter, I challenge this nationalist historiography that sets out athleticism in fascist and communist states as particularly coercive and militant. My work will instead illustrate commonalities between communist, democratic, and fascist states’ athletic regimes and suggest a pan-European new wave of biopolitically driven physical cultural programming throughout the interwar period. The chapter has three sections that trace out the intersections between sport and politics in France, Italy, and the Soviet Union. I show that while each state promoted its own national politics of sport around questions of civic virtue, gender, health, work, and duty, these concerns emerged out of similar worries about eugenics and heredity, labour capacity, and military preparedness.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReform, revolution and crisis in Europe
Subtitle of host publicationlandmarks in history, memory and thought
EditorsBronwyn Winter, Cat Moir
Place of PublicationNew York ; London
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9780367815004, 9781000725896, 9781000725957, 9781000726015
ISBN (Print)9780367415211
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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