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University Hosts Prestigious International Sports History Conference

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The University of Worcester has hosted a major international sport history conference looking at the history and development of a multitude of sports and their cultural, political and social impact.

From hockey and women’s social progress in Edwardian England to China’s football statues, the British Society of Sports History’s (BSSH) Annual Conference offered a host of interesting topics, which attracted experts in their field from all over the world.

Dr Geoff Kohe, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Sport Studies, said: “The event provided a chance to not only showcase the University and the City, but also highlight its rich, proud and illustrious sport history and our long established academic contribution to the discipline. It attracted a wide range of scholarly study and a diverse array of international, regional and local researchers. Overall, it has reiterated Worcester's valued place on the country's sport and history landscape and its commitment to the region's heritage, culture and communities. We look forward to continuing our research contributions in this important area."

The three-day conference attracted the BSSH’s largest attendance outside London. It brought together experts from the University of Worcester and academics, practitioners, independent scholars, retired professionals and post-graduate and early career researchers from the UK, United States, Canada, Israel, Australia, France and Thailand. They had their pick of 62 academic presentations.

The speakers addressed topics including: 1920s Australian soccer, early women’s rowing, the origins of municipal golf courses, female American football players from 1890-1905, chess players in urban and literary culture from 1840-51, Government and public attitudes to sport in the Second World War and sport during the American occupation of Germany.

Key note speakers, Professor Tony Collins, from De Montfort University, and Professor Mike Cronin, from Boston College, Ireland, spoke, respectively, on the challenges historians face when evaluating sport in the modern era, and how popular sporting myths and traditions come to dominate cities’ public identities.

Some of the presentations will feature in the upcoming editions of the society’s journal, Sport in History.

The event also gave the University the opportunity to showcase its research and archive collections, most notable of which is material held within the University’s National Basketball Heritage Archive and Study Centre, which launched last year.

The conference organisers are keen to hear from anyone who is interested in or undertaking sport history activity and scholarly research in and around the region, and will hopefully look to host events for the Midlands branch of the BSSH at some point in the near future.

For more information email g.kohe@worc.ac.uk.