Made which to measure? Nineteenth century science and sporting bodies

Mewett, Peter 2003, Made which to measure? Nineteenth century science and sporting bodies, in ASA 2003 : Anthropology and Science : 5th Decennial Conference of Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth. Conference abstract book, The University of Manchester, Manchester, England, pp. 1-19.


Title Made which to measure? Nineteenth century science and sporting bodies
Author(s) Mewett, Peter
Conference name Conference of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth (5th : 2003 : Manchester, England)
Conference location University of Manchester, England
Conference dates 14-18 Jul. 2003
Title of proceedings ASA 2003 : Anthropology and Science : 5th Decennial Conference of Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth. Conference abstract book
Editor(s) Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth
Publication date 2003
Start page 1
End page 19
Publisher The University of Manchester
Place of publication Manchester, England
Summary The modification of bodies to enhance performance for competitive sporting purposes originated in the mid eighteenth century. Since then, ‘science’ has informed the discourses of sports training practices, but its influence has changed significantly, now being directive rather than merely being addressed in the ethos of training. Today, sports training practices often are associated with scientific research focussed on understanding the biological processes underpinning physical achievements. However, in the first two centuries of modern sport, science, rather than directing practice, was used as a legitimating, justifying discourse that served to empower training practices.

This paper, an exercise in historical anthropology, replaces conventional ethnographic data with the texts of sports training manuals, sports periodicals and medical journals to examine how these discourses represented the influence of science on the preparation of the body for competition. The focus on the nineteenth century is instructive because, first, physiological models at the century’s start were influenced by Galenic theory, but were underpinned by modern empirical science at its end. Second, from the 1860s, amateurism inspired a major rethinking of training; the ensuing contrast with the preparation of professional athletes illustrates how science was deployed in the making of nineteenth century sporting bodies.
Language eng
Field of Research 160899 Sociology not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category E2 Full written paper - non-refereed / Abstract reviewed
Copyright notice ©2003, ASA
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30014075

Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: School of Social and International Studies
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