This book publishes papers presented at an interdisciplinary conference convened by Dr Lo at the British Museum.
Academics from diverse fields, including historians, anthropologists, sociologists and public health physicians were asked to consider sports and body cultivation East and West. By presenting rigorous situated histories of changing training regimen in different cultures, collectively the papers challenge orthodox notions of the perfect body and its pursuit. The introductory essay by the editor compares and contrasts the different methods and ideals.
Ancient regimen and techniques may seem remote, yet many attempt to resolve issues that are common to us all. Some are directed at the immortality or longevity of the physical body, and include performance-enhancing nutrition and drug taking; others train the spirit and souls for the afterlife. Many emphasise the interconnectedness of the human body with its environment. The papers set their topic in its broad socio-political and cultural context, facilitating a dialogue with other contributors who considered many similar questions for the 20th and 21st centuries.
The editor: Vivienne Lo is Senior Lecturer in the History Department at UCL. She is also Director of the UCL China Centre for Health and Humanity.