• 2015 ASSH Awards

    11 November 2015
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    Congratulations to the following recipients of the 2015 ASSH Awards.

    ASSH Service Award

    The Australian Society for Sport History has awarded Associate Professor Rob Hess its Distinguished Service Award.

    Rob was president of ASSH between 2011 and 2013. During his term, Rob updated the structure, policies and functions of the executive committee. In so doing, he greatly improved the governance and administration of the Society. As well as president, Rob has served ASSH as:

    • editor of Sporting Traditions between 2003 and 2007,
    • editor of the ASSH Studies Series between 2006 and 2008,
    • editor of the Reviews section for Sporting Traditions since 2008, and
    • an organiser of Sporting Traditions XV in Melbourne in 2005.

    As co-author of A National Game: The History of Australian Rules Football, which won the ASSH Book Award in 2009, Rob has also helped raise the intellectual profile and credibility of sport history and ASSH in Australia.

    ASSH Anthology Award, 2015

    The Australian Society for Sport History has awarded Examining Sport Histories, edited by Richard Pringle and Murray Phillips, and published by Fitness Information Technology, its award for best Anthology published over the preceding two years.

    Examining Sport Histories comprises 12 chapters by 14 scholars with an interest in sport history. The book tackles three basic questions:

    • What is sport history?
    • How should practitioners do sport history? and
    • What is the relationship between sport history and other academic disciplines?

    In addressing these questions, the editors and contributors advocate for postmodern approaches to sport history. By postmodernism, they mean, siding with

    • the subjective over the objective
    • form over content, and
    • representation over reality.

    In short, Examining Sport Histories advances the view that historians construct history rather than discover the past. Examining Sport Histories will assist historians interrogate the practice of history, and the implications of that practice.

    ASSH Book Award, 2015

    The Australian Society for Sport History has awarded its premier award to three books:

    • Black and Proud: The Story of an Iconic AFL Photo, by Matthew Klugman and Gary Osmond, and published by
    • Sport and the British World, 1900-1930: Amateurism and National Identity in Australasia and Beyond, by Erik Nielsen and published by Palgrave Macmillan.
    • Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers: Craft, Creativity and Cultural Heritage in Hawai‘i, California and Australia, by Andrew Warren and Chris Gibson, and published by the University of Hawai‘i Press.

    In Black and Proud, Matthew Klugman and Gary Osmond offer fresh perspectives on the iconic photograph of AFL footballer Nicky Winmar’s defiant stance against racism at Victoria Park, Melbourne, in April 1993. Black and Proud is an exemplary contemporary cultural history that masterfully blends content and form. Klugman and Osmond make powerful use of context; they examine the photograph of Winmar in the context of Australia’s racial past, race relations in the mid-1990s, and the game at Victoria Park in 1993. Black and Proud highlights the centrality of narrative form in history. One member of the committee described the book as a “compelling read” that creates “an element of suspense even though we know some of what happened!” Almost uniquely among historians of sport, Klugman and Osmond give Aboriginal footballers their own voices. And, they reinforce the present-centred nature of history and the importance of moral and political lessons in telling stories about the past. While Klugman and Osmond demonstrate that racism survives in Australian society and Australian football, they also point out that sport enables Aborigines, and Aboriginal communities, to achieve success in a myriad of ways.

    In Sport and the British World, Erik Nielsen questions traditional interpretations of amateurism and compares the administrative aspects of the concept with its ideological dimensions. Nielson argues strongly, and persuasively, that amateur officials in Australasia pursued activities that challenged classic British conceptions of amateurism, and that amateurs in Australasia were simultaneously more diverse, and more inclusive, than those in either Britain or Canada. This diversity politicised sporting relations with the Empire. Sport and the British World is an exemplar of meticulous archival work and the comparative method. Nielsen presents a new and complex set of arguments around amateurism—a key, and fundamental, concept in the social history of sport. Nielson also makes some profound observations regarding the development of sport in Canada and Australia. He notes, for example, that the primary spectator sports in both nations are indigenous games—ice hockey in Canada and Australian Football in Australia—and that neither sport has a British heritage.

    In Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers, Andrew Warren and Chris Gibson explore the social and cultural relationships between surfers and surfboards across the twentieth century as surfboards become more technical in their design, and as the production of surfboards became increasingly industrialised. Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers is an exemplary model of material history. Warren and Gibson build their history on a sophisticated model of political economy that acknowledges the interdependency of politics, economy and culture. Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers highlights the crafts of contextualisation and conceptualisation, makes good use of oral sources, and emphasises the importance of time and place in history, by tracing political, economic and cultural relationships across the twentieth century and around the Pacific Ocean. The depth of Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers will inspire readers well beyond the material history of the surfboard.

     

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