Call for Papers | “History of Competitive Gymnastics”, Special Issue of The International Journal of the History of Sport | Call ends November 30, 2021


      • Roslyn Kerr, Lincoln University
      • Natalie Barker-Ruchti, Örebro University
      • Georgia Cervin, University of Western Australia

Historical research on gymnastics has primarily focused on two aspects: the early development of various gymnastics-related activities prior to their becoming a competitive sport and the development of elite women’s artistic gymnastics (WAG) since 1952, particularly in relation to the Eastern Bloc. Yet, there are a variety of other competitive gymnastics codes and contexts outside of these areas that are worthy of attention. For example, men’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and trampolining have now been competitive Olympic sports for decades, and their development has followed a very different trajectory from WAG. Meanwhile, acrobatic gymnastics and sports aerobics have never made it onto the Olympic programme. Outside of the elite arena is the immense popularity of college gymnastics in North America and Team Gymnastics in Scandinavia, while all over the world competitive gymnasts compete in a range of youth events without Olympic aspirations.

This special issue of IHJS will focus on examining new contexts and telling unheard stories related to competitive gymnastics. Moving beyond Olga Korbut and Nadia Comaneci, it will emphasise countries, athletes, codes, coaches and officials that have not featured heavily in the literature previously. It aims to showcase the variety of forms that competitive gymnastics has taken, and to highlight the many actors who have contributed to its development across a range of contexts.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

      • The gymnastics codes of men’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampolining, acrobatic gymnastics and sports aerobics
      • Less-researched countries that have nonetheless played a significant role in shaping gymnastics, such as Japan in men’s artistic gymnastics , the Netherlands in women’s artistic gymnastics and Brazil in sports aerobics.
      • Less-researched athletes, coaches, judges, officials or administrators
      • College gymnastics in North America
      • Team gymnastics in Scandinavia
      • Non-elite gymnastics
      • Migration stories of coaches or gymnasts
      • Gymnastics in the media or the role of the media in gymnastics
      • Technologies and materiality of gymnastics including uniforms, apparatus, equipment, rules, particularly in non-WAG disciplines
      • Theoretical perspectives that have not yet been applied to gymnastics, such as queer theory or intersectionality

Please send questions to either or both of or

To submit a proposal for consideration, email the abstract (500 words) and a short bio by NOVEMBER 30th, 2021 to ALL of:;;

Once the selection of papers has been decided, final versions of papers would be due to the editors by SEPTEMBER 30th, 2022.  Articles should be 8,000 words and conform to the house style of the journal, details of which can be found here.

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