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The English Style: Figure Skating, Gender, and National Identity

B.A. Thurber

During the second half of the nineteenth century, a unique style of figure skating developed in Great Britain. This style emphasized long, flowing glides at high speed with a stiff, upright body posture. It contrasted with the International style, a type of skating developed on the Continent that favored brisk limb movements and showy tricks, such as jumps and spins. English skaters saw the International style as effeminate, while their own represented their idea of masculinity and allowed them to express their national identity. After the founding of the International Skating Union in 1892, British skaters found it necessary to adopt the International style to be competitive. Women proved better able to do so than men, and Madge Syers won the gold in the 1908 Olympics. Over time, the process of transnational exchange enacted through international competition resulted in the near-disappearance of the English style.

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Exploring Issues in Transnational Sport History

Robert J. Lake and Simon J. Eaves

Increasingly, sport has become an important lens through which to examine the historical influences of, and issues related to, transnational interactions and exchanges, yet the term “transnational” remains beset with disagreement regarding its precise meaning and definition. Commonly, transnational approaches to the historical study of sport provide opportunities to reach beyond “the nation,” whereby the nation–state is not positioned, necessarily, as the central category of analysis in discussions of cultural exchange between or across nations and borders. In such analyses, nonstate actors—essentially, those working outside of government influence—can move from the periphery to the center of focus. Challenging the dominant narrative of much historical research into globalization in sport that has tended to dwell on the negative, transnational approaches, as evidenced in this collection, offer new opportunities to consider positive, progressive, and co-operative aspects inherent to the connections and exchanges examined.

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Synchronized Swimming in Ontario, 1920–50s: Gender, Beauty, and Sport

Matthew S. Wiseman and Jane Nicholas

This article examines the history of synchronized swimming in Ontario, with a specific focus on Peterborough, between the 1920s and the 1950s. Two factors explain the rise and consolidation of “synchro” as a women’s sport in the period. The first factor relates to earlier changes in women’s sport in the interwar period, alongside the rise of modern hegemonic beauty culture. As synchro struggled for official recognition, coaches and swimmers embraced feminine beauty constructs to generate popularity for their sport. The second factor relates to the nationalistic approach to sport development in the 1940s and 1950s. Financial and ideological investment in sport as important for national health and physical fitness allowed synchro to grow and flourish. As exemplified by the Peterborough club, these two factors allowed Canadian women to play a formative role in the national and international development of synchro as a sport to produce fit and beautiful bodies.

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Global and Transnational Sport: Ambiguous Borders, Connected Domains

Zachary R. Bigalke

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“If Britain Wants War on Africa, She Will Have It”: African Reprisals to the 1974 British Lions Rugby Tour of South Africa

Michelle M. Sikes

The Supreme Council for Sport in Africa announced that all independent African nations would boycott all British sport if the British Lions rugby team toured South Africa in 1974. Despite condemnation from segments of the British public, entreaties from government ministers, and African threats, the rugby tour went ahead. This article adds to a large body of scholarship on the struggle against apartheid in sport, within which the 1974 Lions tour has received little attention, and focuses on the transnational efforts to stop that tour led by Kenya and independent Africa. Calls for reprisals across the continent were not unanimous, and the disparity of African reactions challenges perceptions of the “Africa bloc” as a monolith guaranteed to maintain a united front on anti-apartheid sport activity. Reactions to the tour anticipated events two years later at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and this event became a test case for strategies designed to isolate South Africa through punitive actions against third-party nations that broke ranks.

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Shooting Over the Curtain—A Transnational Analysis of Soviet Hockey in the 1950s and 1960s

Mathieu Boivin-Chouinard

This article analyzes Soviet hockey as a transnational phenomenon by underlining three international events that marked milestones in the domestication of hockey in the country and in the Sovietization of international hockey. Focusing on the period of the massification of the sport in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), from the end of the 1940s to the end of the 1960s, it interprets the appropriation and transformation of a Canadian sport in the Soviet reality through the analytical tools of cultural translation and hybridization. It is this period of great cultural and social transformation, first in the xenophobic context of the anti-cosmopolitan campaign that took place during late Stalinism, and later in the internationalist enthusiasm that characterized Khrushchev’s Thaw, that ice hockey has been sovietized. That process neccessitated the translation of a foreign cultural object in Soviet languages and semiotic tools. Meanwhile, international hockey itself underwent a profound hybridization process to which the Soviets greatly contributed.

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The Strategic Revolution: Scottish Ideals and Transnational Exchange in Golf Course Architecture, c. 1860s–1930s

Jordan Goldstein and Graeme Thompson

Professional golf architects emerged in the early twentieth century across the English-speaking world. These new professionals coalesced around ideas that promoted a Scottish national conception of proper golf. When golf first migrated from the Scottish coasts inland, south into England, and across the oceans to the United States and the British Dominions in the latter half of the nineteenth century, no standardized form or set of ideals on Golf course architecture existed. Through their collective writings, professional golf architects from Britain, the United States, and Canada codified the values, design principles, and the romance of the ancient Scottish linksland courses as the standard way to design and construct golf courses. We therefore position golf courses as important sites of historical inquiry into the transmission of national styles. These Golden Age (1910–37) golf architects thus encouraged the transnational exchange of sport through the construction of golf courses in a peculiarly Scottish sense.

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Transnational Sport in the American West: Oaxaca California Basketball

Paulina A. Rodríguez

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Building the Transnational “Body Beautiful”—K.V. Iyer and the Circulation of Bodybuilding Practices between India and the United States

Aishwarya Ramachandran and Conor Heffernan

This article examines the career of the Indian physical culturist, K.V. Iyer, and situates his writings from the 1920s and 1930s within a transnational community between India and the United States. Iyer ran several gymnasiums, offered health advice, and sold books and mail-order courses across India and internationally. Previous studies have focused on his yogic practices and anti-colonial thinking, with less attention given to his place in the global bodybuilding community. While his writings were sometimes suffused with political rhetoric, his vision of the ideal citizen was derived from his immersion in Western scientific ideas around physiology and anatomy and his ongoing communication with American physical culturists. Studying a global health community between India and the United States, which first found expression through yoga and the Young Men Christian Association, this article positions Iyer as a leading figure in a global exchange of Indian and American ideas concerning the muscular body.

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Sport and Society in Global France: Nations, Migrations, and Corporations

Tom Fabian