International workshop: Children and Physical Culture in Imperial and Soviet Russia. Nantes, 29-20 April, 2020

Sylvain Dufraisse gives us this information for CESH members:

 

Children and Physical Culture in Imperial and Soviet Russia: Representations, Politics, Debates (first half of the 20thcentury).

 

Physical education for children was a political issue in European societies at the turn of the 20th century. Soviet Russia is characterized by the emergence of a singular notion: Fizkul’tura, ‘Physical culture’. This concept encompassed various types of physical activities and tried to promote new ways of thinking the relations between the body and the mind. Soviet theorists were ardent supporters and promoters of this notion during the 20th century in international institutions, especially among children, from day nursery to the Komsomol. Nevertheless, this concept was quite flexible. On July 13, 1925, the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) issued a decree that defined physical culture officially but that based it on a broad conception that could satisfy all the groups implicated in physical activities in the Soviet Union:

‘Physical culture has to be considered not only from the standpoint of physical vospitanie and health and as a means of cultural, economic and military preparation of youth (rifle-shooting and other sports), but also as one of the ways of educating the masses (as physical education developed characteristics such as the will, collective habits, endurance, resourcefulness and other valuable qualities) and together with these, it was a means of uniting workers and peasants around the party, councils, and professional organizations through which they could become interested in social-political life[1].’

Historiography has traditionally considered that the Bolshevik state had placed the development of physical culture and the education of children at the forefront of its preoccupations. Nevertheless, the emergence and development of physical culture in the USSR has to be analyzed in its ruptures and continuations. That is why we wanted to consider the different theories and social experiences from the Imperial society and from European trends (the hygienist movement, socialist sport) that could have influenced the Soviet emergence of Physical culture. We also want to point out how Physical Culture emerged from debates within the sphere of physical culture activists, doctors and political leaders.

So far, recent studies on Physical Culture have little tackled the issue of children’s physical activities. Studies about childhood in the USSR have not devoted much attention to that topic. The present workshop intends to fill this gap. We want to interrogate the relation between physical culture and children from the point of view of political leaders, educators, pedologists, artists and children themselves. Ph. D candidates, postdoctoral researchers and senior researchers are invited to present research based on historical, sociological, visual studies, philosophical and anthropological methods. Organizers would be interested in the use of new sources and new perspectives.

 

Possible topics to be discussed include:

— Literary, visual (still and moving pictures) and artistic representations of children and physical culture

— Gender and physical culture

— Policies and practices of physical culture aimed at children

— Social, political and theoretical issues and debates about physical culture and children

— Cultural transfers in relation to physical culture and children.

 

The conference will be held in Nantes. The working languages of the event will be Englishand in French.

 

Important Dates:

a) Submission of paper proposals: 21 October 2019.

b) Responses: November 2019

c) Conference: 29 and 30 April 2020

 

Proposals consisting of a resume and a short proposal (2,000 signs), summarizing the paper, methodology and sources in English should be sent before 21 October 2019 to cpichonbonin@gmail.com and sylvain.dufraisse@univ-nantes.fr.

 

The conference organizers have limited funds to cover participants’ accommodation costs for the duration of the conference and airfare (partially or in full). We ask prospective participants who will need financial assistance to indicate this in their submissions.