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date: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter addresses the paradox that, despite its prevalence in national and global cultures, sport fails to receive due attention from historians interested in the problem of “modernity.” Yet, the history of sport’s rise to its current place in popular culture, combined with its boundedness as phenomenon, serves as a powerful lens on the intersecting processes that historians have identified as the hallmarks of this modernity—economic transformation, urbanization, the invention of “traditions,” and the construction of coexisting and disparate identities, not to mention broader vectors of social change encompassed in the parallel projects of domestic amelioration and the colonial “civilizing mission,” along with their nationalist and globalist or neoimperial successors. The chapter offers a broad overview in the career of sport as reflections of modernizing processes that have long interested historians while suggesting that sport’s history also complicates many of these historical perspectives.

Keywords: sport, modernity, identity, globalization, colonialism, empire, nationalism, mass culture, masculinity, liberalism

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