By presenting rigorous situated histories of changing training regimen in different cultures, this collection of papers collectively 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.
Histories of sports, body cultivation and sports medicines in non-European cultures are only just now beginning to emerge. With the Olympics approaching in London, it is timely to explore the diverse traditions of perfecting body and soul, as a fascinating historical project in itself, but also to provide a rich context for envisioning a more widely beneficial approach to sports, medicine and immortality for all.
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