New Books Network

Simon Creak

Embodied Nation

Sport, Masculinity, and the Making of Modern Laos

University of Hawaii Press 2015

New Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Southeast Asian StudiesNew Books in SportsNew Books Network July 27, 2016 Nick Cheesman

In the introduction to Embodied Nation: Sport, Masculinity, and the Making of Modern Laos (University of Hawaii Press, 2015), historian Simon Creak writes that...

In the introduction to Embodied Nation: Sport, Masculinity, and the Making of Modern Laos (University of Hawaii Press, 2015), historian Simon Creak writes that Laos, a country that has never won an Olympic medal, may seem an unlikely place to study the history of sport. Yet from the uplands of mainland Southeast Asia, Creak draws on rarely accessed archival material to tell a fascinating and nuanced story of regional and global interconnectedness through masculinity, national pride and competitiveness. By tracking the idea and practice of physical culture alongside changing conceptions of civility and development Creak shows that there is much more to sport, even in the unlikeliest of places, than meets the eye. Describing it as “one of the most fascinating books I have read in years,” Justin McDaniel writes that Embodied Nation “should become a model for the study of masculinity and sports culture in the [Asian] region and beyond.”

Simon Creak joins New Books in Southeast Asian Studies to discuss bodily training and aesthetics in the colonies of France, the relationship between physical exercise and militarization, athletic theatrics and state power, socialist spectator sport, and the malleability of what counts as success in competition on the field and off.


Nick Cheesman is a fellow at the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University. He can be reached at nick.cheesman@anu.edu.au