This project will explore cultural transfer between European states through a study of the diffusion, adoption and appropriation of physical education and sport. The period chosen for the study covers both the dramatic growth of ‘English’ sports in Germany and the less familiar influences of Germanic traditions of physical education in Britain. During the interwar period the governments of most European countries became involved in the ‘politising’ of sport and physical education, ranging from the formal incorporation of sports associations into the state in Germany to the informal ideology of national consensus in Britain. However, these internal political distinctions provide only a partial explanation of the pattern of European sport; the diffusion of ideas, practices and people was critically important and often challenged received ideas of ‘national’ stereotypes and traditions.
The first part of the project focuses on the reciprocal German and British influences in two areas: the different models and policies for individual and competitive sport and the parallel process of mass educational and health reform through physical education derived from Germany. The second part examines the networks of co-operation and interchange between athletes, officials and the public across national frontiers in this period of rapid internationalisation that have been neglected and deserve full exploration as part of a wider understanding of the complex process of cultural transfer itself.
The researcher has chosen the host university on the basis of its excellence in the interdisciplinary approach of Anglo-British issues and in consultation with her supervisor, who is a world-leading figure in the field. The realisation of this ambitious project requires a wide knowledge in European sports history and the capacity to use knowledge and methods from other disciplines such as political science, sociology and languages. The project’s main sources are located in Berlin and London.
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