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date: 20 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the development of sport in one of the most significant regions in its history. It explains the institutional reasons why a truly comparative history of the continent is still lacking and presents and critiques fruitful new avenues that might lead to a more integrated picture. Its principle plaidoyer is for greater recognition of sports of non-British origin, as well as the polygenetic spread of British sports, especially in English-language scholarship. It also urges a cautious reconsideration of political and ideological narratives (of the Fascist era in particular), which have tended to reduce complex historical reality to moral truths. While the chapter places a special emphasis on the first half of the twentieth century, it outlines the three key areas of sport’s development after 1945: affluence in the West, the Cold War, and European integration. Here, too, the chapter calls on future accounts to strive for greater complexity.

Keywords: team sports, gymnastics, Turnen, Soko, comparative history, Fascism, Totalitarianism, Cold War

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