After 1850, Sokol associations played an important role in fostering national movements within the multi-ethnic empires that dominated South Eastern Europe. During the Balkan Wars and World War I, they were central to the militarization of these societies, and during the first Yugoslavian state their role was to help build a Yugoslavian national and religious identity. After World War II, the Sokols were replaced by Socialist associations of physical culture, and later, with the decay of the Federation, sport became a central means for mobilizing national enthusiasm for the newly independent national states. This article seeks to contextualize innovative studies on the history of sport in Yugoslavia and its successor states, with some reference to other states in the region. It points to cultural-historical perspectives on sports as a part of the modern discourses of scientification, sacralization, and militarization of societies in South Eastern Europe.

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