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2015 Junior Scholar Winners

The 2015 Routledge Junior Scholar Presentation Award winner is Taro Obayashi, University of Tsukuba, Japan for his engaging, informative conference presentation “Recovery from the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 through Sport Events in Tokyo City.” Taro Obayashi’s award is £75 in books from Routledge.

The 2015 Gigliola Gori Junior Scholar Award Prize recipient is Dario Nardini. The Italian scholar wrote the most outstanding, unpublished essay. 

The 2015 Gigliola Gori Junior Scholar Award Prize recipient is Dario Nardini. Nardini is a talented Italian scholar from the University of Siena; he is also an expert athlete in both judo and swimming. The Gigliola Gori Junior Scholar Award Prize is awarded a junior scholar who is a member of ISPHES as well as in pursuit of a higher degree. The award honors the most outstanding, original, and unpublished essay. Nardini, an Italian scholar, won this award with his essay: “Gouren, the Breton Way to Wrestle.”

Sporting practices are not only series of biomechanical actions: they are gestures which make sense. The learning of a body knowledge is the transmission of a set of actions, but also of a system of dispositions, that could often overflow the time/space banks of the practice. From this perspective, “traditional wrestling” could be more than a physical activity: it could express, define and transmit a particular sporting culture, as well as a localized cultural identity. It also represents a cultural, ritual and regulated way to interpret the physical confrontation between men, explicitly or implicitly linked to the social representations of some fundamental cultural values, like violence, force, masculinity, relationships, body, contact.

This ethnographic research analyses how a “sportivized” traditional wrestling practice could define a sporting culture and give practitioners a way to express and to perform their belonging to a social identity. From an anthropological point of view and through ethnographic participation, it analyses in the field, especially in the province of Rennes, the processes of “(re-)invention” of gouren (the Breton wrestling), delineating the social, historical and cultural dimensions of this body practice.

For some Breton people actively involved in the process of “sportification” and institutionalisation of gouren (especially Dr. Cotonnec, who founded the first Breton wrestling Federation in 1930), the Breton wrestling represented a local conjugation of what “gymnastic” represented for the republican nation-state at the time of its attempts to build a national French identity through physical (re-)education: a different physical culture (their “authentic” physical culture). Even now, gouren is considered as an emblematic way to practice a sport: the Breton way to wrestle.

The research delineates the contemporary collective process of re-invention and of display of such a regional wrestling tradition. It especially focus on some key concepts, such as heritage, performance, embodiment and transmission, technique of the body, cultural and regional identities in France, proxemic and the meaning of physical contact in sport, “euphemisation of violence” in wrestling disciplines, collective processes of (re-)construction of a “traditional sport”.