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Remaking the Male BodyMasculinity and the uses of Physical Culture in Interwar and Vichy France$
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Joan Tumblety

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199695577

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199695577.001.0001

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The Defeat of French manhood and the Vichy imagination

The Defeat of French manhood and the Vichy imagination

(p.205) 6 The Defeat of French manhood and the Vichy imagination
Remaking the Male Body

Joan Tumblety

Oxford University Press

This chapter outlines how responses to the catastrophic military collapse of 1940 cast it as proof of French physical failure, and considers how the Vichy regime, which invested more resources in sport and physical education than even the Popular Front, sought masculine renewal as part of its anti-republican reordering of French society. It also traces the fortunes of the protagonists examined across the book, showing how the physician-culturists of the 1920s and 1930s often brought their expertise to roles in Vichy administration, if not policy-making. The chapter argues that the regime's sustained engagement with the desire to rebuild French men in the wake of defeat shows — although not nearly so much as previously in the eugenicist language of the ‘regeneration of the race’ — not only a further instance of the political uses of male athleticism, but the purchase of interwar notions of the merits of ‘rational’ physical exercise.

Keywords:   Vichy regime, national renewal, masculinity, military defeat, regeneration, expertise

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