The 1904 Anthropology Days and Olympic Games: Sport, Race, and American Imperialism

Front Cover
Susan Brownell
U of Nebraska Press, 2008 - Social Science - 471 pages
1 Review
One of the more problematic sport spectacles in American history took place at the 1904 World?s Fair in St. Louis, which included the third modern Olympic Games. Associated with the Games was a curious event known as Anthropology Days organized by William J. McGee and James Sullivan, at that time the leading figures in American anthropology and sports, respectively. McGee recruited Natives who were participating in the fair?s ethnic displays to compete in sports events, with the ?scientific? goal of measuring the physical prowess of ?savages? as compared with ?civilized men.? This interdisciplinary collection of essays assesses the ideas about race, imperialism, and Western civilization manifested in the 1904 World?s Fair and Olympic Games and shows how they are still relevant.
A turning point in both the history of the Olympics and the development of modern anthropology, these games expressed the conflict between the Old World emphasis on culture and New World emphasis on utilitarianism. Marked by Franz Boas?s paper at the Scientific Congress, the events in St. Louis witnessed the beginning of the shift in anthropological research from nineteenth-century evolutionary racial models to the cultural relativist paradigm that is now a cornerstone of modern American anthropology. Racist pseudoscience nonetheless reappears to this day in the realm of sports.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Bodies before Boas Sport before the Laughter Left
Testing Racial Strength and Endurance at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition
Anthropology and Athletics at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition
Chapter 3 Pierre de Coubertins Concepts of Race Nation and Civilization
Chapter 4 Anthropology Days the Construction of Whiteness and American Imperialism in the Philippines
The Nonparticipation of Canadian Indians
The Girls from Forth Shaw Montana Indian School Basketball Champions of the 1904 Worlds Fair
Problems of National and International Representation at the 1904 Olympics
Chapter 9 From the Anthropology Days to the Anthropological Olympics
Chapter 10 Olympic Anthropology Days and the Progress of Exclusion
Chapter 11 The Growth of Scientific Standards from Anthropology Days to Present Days

Chapter 8 Greece and the 1904 American Olympics

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

Susan Brownell is a professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. She 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. Contributors: John Bale, Susan Brownell, Mark Dyreson, Henning Eichberg, Gerald R. Gems, Alexander Kitroeff, Suzuko Mousel Knott, Jonathan Marks, Christine M. O?Bonsawin, Nancy J. Parezo, Linda Peavy, Otto J. Schantz, and Ursula Smith.

Bibliographic information