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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 Body of the Citizen-Soldier Physical Education and the State

The Body of the Citizen-Soldier Physical Education and the State

(p.57) 2 The Body of the Citizen-Soldier Physical Education and the State
Remaking the Male Body

Joan Tumblety

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the conceptual and institutional links between physical culturist ‘experts’ and the public powers: the former often functioned as lobbyists or advisers with close ties to government. The chapter shows how the hygienist concerns about male physical failure discussed in the first chapter resonated in public debates about reducing the length of military service, about the physical state of French conscripts, and about the alleged intellectual overwork in schools. In official circles the language of degeneration and the ‘improvement of the race’ was strikingly pervasive, crossing conventional party political lines and finding expression even in the physical education policies of the Popular Front governments of 1936–8. The purchase of these concerns was reflected very clearly by the fact that in the 1937 Paris world's fair the category featuring sport and physical education also included eugenics.

Keywords:   military service, physical education, popular front, Paris world's fair, education reform, national decline

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