- Format: Hardcover
- ISBN: 978-1-5261-5328-9
- Pages: 360
- Price: £85.00
- Published Date: February 2022
- Series: Studies in Modern French and Francophone History
Sport and physical culture in Occupied France examines the Vichy state's attempts to promote physical education and sports in order to rejuvenate French men and women during the Occupation. Through this cultural lens, it illuminates the central paradox of state power during the Vichy Regime. The state organised a centralised physical cultural programme meant to control and discipline French men and women. However, these activities instead empowered individuals and sporting associations to create spaces for individual expression, protect entrenched business enterprises, preserve republican institutions and organise sites for mutual aid and assistance. Based on extensive archival research, this innovative, multi-city analysis demonstrates how French sporting federations, associations and athletes appropriated Vichy's physical education directives to reshape the ideology of the state and serve their own local agendas.
'Sport and physical culture in Occupied France is a vigorous account seeking to cut through what the author depicts as the mythologising and confining frameworks that depict experience as that lived narrowly in the shadow of France's 'dark years' [...] what is offered is something very different: a portrait of a lively, if complex, mesh of sport and physical culture. A world of competition and enjoyment that provided a sustaining realm in which some limited autonomy was possible even under general conditions of confinement. [The book] gives us a powerful example of why sport continues to delight and appal us.'
Charlotte Macdonald, History Australia
Keith Rathbone has provided us with a ground-breaking work in the English language on French sport. His blending of work in the archive and personal testimony gives both a top down and ground level examination of the many aspects of French sporting life during the Occupation.
French History, December 2022
Rathbone undertook meticulous research in nearly thirty institutions in what had been the Occupied Zone, the Non-Occupied Zone and the Prohibited Zone for most of the Second World War, and his work adds greatly to studies of the history of physical culture by challenging previous assertions within the historiography of wartime France regarding the everyday lives of its population. It will become the standard text of reference for studies of sport during the last French occupation, while it can also serve as a significant comparative assessment of how civilians have attempted to maintain their sporting lives during a military occupation.
Conor Curran, Sport in History
1 The interwar battle between amateurism and professionalism: the use of physical education and sports by the French left and right
2 Building the world they wanted: bureaucrats, teachers and athletic fields in Vichy social imaginary
3 Playground politics, childhood disobedience and Vichy's national revolution
4 Why rugby and not soccer: Vichy anti-professionalism and the sporting environment of wartime France
5 The resilience of community: agency and autonomy in wartime sporting associations
6 French sporting associations and the creation of the myth of résistancialisme
Keith Rathbone is a Senior Lecturer in History at Macquarie University