Strongman Eugen Sandow's World Tour of 1904-1905: The 'Perfect Man' in Colonial India and Afro-Asia (Hardcover)

Strongman Eugen Sandow's World Tour of 1904-1905: The 'Perfect Man' in Colonial India and Afro-Asia By Carey Watt Cover Image
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A famous White European male named Eugen Sandow (1867-1925) toured colonial South Africa and South, Southeast, and East Asia in 1904-1905 during a period of European imperial anxiety and rising Asian confidence and nationalism. He was renowned as the world's "perfect" and "strongest" man at the turn of the 20th century, and he was the British Museum's model in 1901 for the ideal Caucasian male. Sandow's tour of Afro-Asia might seem like a straightforward tale about a European strongman, entertainer, and entrepreneur bringing a supposedly superior, scientifically developed White body and British entertainment to Africa and Asia using modern rail, steamship, and telegraphic services, but there is much more to the story. Looking beyond the exuberant "Sandow crazes" in large colonial cities such as Johannesburg, Calcutta, Singapore, and Hong Kong, the book highlights complex processes of cross-cultural exchange that were occurring. These were characterized by flows and counterflows of ideas and practices about exercise and health despite existing political, military, and economic power imbalances. Africans and Asians interested in fitness, physical culture, and male strength were able to ignore, challenge, or assimilate Sandow's claims about the superiority of his system, his body and manliness, and his status as the world's "perfect man." This study of Sandow's 1904-1905 world tour uncovers and analyzes issues of representation and cultural exchange regarding physical culture, the body, gender, and race in a global imperial context. It also highlights some of the trials and tribulations of globalization in the early 1900s, and it reminds readers of the important history of "demimonde" showbusiness and entertainment initiatives (including music hall, variety shows, and the circus) in colonial Africa and Asia, as well as in the wider British Empire.

About the Author

Carey A. Watt is Professor of History at St. Thomas University. He grew up in Montreal, where he completed his BA and MA at Concordia University, before undertaking a PhD in the history of modern India at Cambridge.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781839990670
ISBN-10: 1839990678
Publisher: Anthem Press
Publication Date: December 31st, 2024
Pages: 250
Language: English