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Promote Physical Culture And Sport, Improve The People's Constitution

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Chapter Summary

This chapter traces early discourses of tiyu (physical culture) that oscillate between two ends, an obsession with the correlation between the body and the nation and the education and construction of modern citizens. It then examines how such discourses were transformed in the People's Republic of China (PRC) and took on new historical significance. With respect to physical activities, tiyu originally denotes Western-style sports such as track and field, ball games, and gymnastics, and stood in contrast to the indigenous mode of physical activities. The vision of tiyu as a transformational force in modernizing the nation and shaping the self, as manifest in early discourses, continued into the Mao era. The sports films in the Mao era served propagandistic and educational functions. Mao's inscription "Promote physical culture and sports, improve the people's constitution" expresses a concern with building ideal citizens, citizens tempered by physical culture.

Keywords: Chinese sports; Mao era; physical activities; physical constitution; tiyu



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