UMSL anthropology professor honored for book

Susan Brownell, chairperson and professor in the Department of Anthropology and Languages at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, received the Anthology Award in Sport History from the North America Society for Sport History. She was honored for the book, “The 1904 Anthropology Days and Olympic Games: Sport, Race, and American Imperialism,” which she edited.

Brownell, who points out she is neither a historian nor an Americanist by training, said she was flattered to receive this award for a book on events associated with the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, which ran simultaneously with the Summer Olympics.

“Although it was far from my expertise in contemporary China, as a St. Louisan I felt compelled to mark the 100-year anniversary of these events by organizing a conference to reassess the commonly-heard assessment that the St. Louis Olympics were the low point of Olympic history that almost killed the Olympic Games,” said Brownell, who lives in the Central West End section of St. Louis. “I was so inspired by the work of the conference participants in re-thinking old events that editing the book and writing the introduction became a true labor of love.”

The book chronicles one of the more problematic sports spectacles in American history through a collection of essays exploring the Anthropology Days, during which native peoples participating in the World Fair’s ethnic displays were recruited to compete in sports events with the “scientific” goal of measuring the physical prowess of “savages” versus “civilized men.”

Brownell also is the author of “Training the Body for China: Sports in the Moral Order of the People’s Republic” and “Beijing’s Games: What the Olympics Mean to China.”

The North American Society for Sport History promotes, stimulates and encourages study and research and writing of the history of sport. It also supports and cooperates with local, national and international organizations having the same purposes.


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