The Pursuit of Fitness: Citizenship and the Body in American History

When:13 Mar 2017, 12pm - 1pm
Venue:Morven Brown 309 (map ref C20)
Who:Professor Jürgen Martschukat, Erfurt University
Jürgen Martschukat

Biopolitics Research Network Symposium


The talk argues that fitness is more than the ability to perform successfully in sports, but a governing principle and “regulatory ideal” in liberal societies. The contemporary concept of fitness asks for more than eating right and moving more, it demands activity, agency, and constant self-improvement in all walks of life. Able-bodiedness needs to be performed in diverse fields such as work, sex, and the military in order to gain full recognition as successful and productive citizens of liberal societies. Today, it seems almost self-evident that fitness is a dynamic and active concept. However, our contemporary understanding of fitness only began to take shape from the mid-nineteenth century as liberal, competitive, Darwinist thinking and biopolitcs gained ground and intensified.

About Jürgen Martschukat

Jürgen Martschukat is Professor of North American History at Erfurt University, and currently William Evans Visiting Fellow at the University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ. His research focuses on the history of violence, families, bodies, sports and genders. His latest book on Die Ordnung des Sozialen (Campus, 2013) won the Adams Award of the Organization of American Historians. Since 2012, he has been running several third party funded research projects on the history of food, fatness and fitness, among them a transdisciplinary and transnational research cooperation on the history and sociology of food and health in Germany and the United States, funded by the VolkswagenFoundation. He is currently working on a history of fitness.

All welcome. No registration required.

Proudly sponsored by the Biopolitical Studies Research Network, the School of Humanites & Langauges and the School of Social Sciences.

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