Training the Body for China: Sports in the Moral Order of the People's Republic

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Anthropologist Susan Brownell, heptathlon gold medallist in the 1986 National College Games of the People's Republic of China, draws on her direct experience of Chinese athletics to provide an insight into the culture of sports and the body in China. The book introduces the notion of body culture to analyze Olympic sports as one element in a whole set of Chinese body practices: the old people's disco dancing craze; the popularity of bodybuilding (following reluctant official acceptance of the bikini); mass calisthenics; martial arts; military discipline; and more. Translating official and dissident materials into English and drawing on performance theory and histories of the body, the text uses the culture of the body as a focal point to explore the tensions between local and global organizations, the traditional and the modern, and men and women. The author's intimate knowledge of Chinese social and cultural life and the wide range of historic examples utilized aim to provide a novel perspective on how gender, the body and the nation are interlinked in Chinese culture.