Call for Papers | “The history of sport in the Balkans: From Gymnastic-based movements to Physical Culture and Sport”, Special Issue of The International Journal of the History of Sport | Call ends September 20, 2024

People parading at Sokolsky Slet, a once-every-six-years gathering of the Sokol movement, July 1, 2018 (Shutterstock/Madeleine Steinbach)

Culturally, ethnically, and religiously heterogenous, the Balkan population during the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth was under the rule of feudalist empires; in the West under Austro-Hungarian control and in the East controlled by the Ottoman Empire, and culturally (and politically) influenced by Tsarist Russia. Established by the Czechs, the Sokol movement dominantly shaped organized physical activity and sport in the Balkans. These organizations were effectively used for emancipation processes. The Sokol organizations in Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, and Montenegro enhanced regional cooperation and Yugoslav ideas, while the Yunak gymnastic movement played a part in shaping national identity. After World War I, most of the emerging Balkan countries continued cooperation through the Association of Red Sports and Gymnastics Association known as ‘Sportintern’, maintaining strong influence by Soviet Russia. The focus was on the imitation of the Soviet approach with ‘fizkulturniki’ and open space events involving a large number of volunteers. Volunteerism represented a key policy component for the development of the mass sport concept.

The International Journal of the History of Sport welcomes submissions up to 8000 words that discuss and examine the history of sport in the Balkans from the emergence of Sokol movements to the introduction of the concept of physical culture throughout self-management socialism.

Indicative themes

      • The emergence of gymnastic organizations in the Balkans vs traditional sports / physical activity
      • Organization of sport activities during the interwar period (WWI – WWII)
      • Decline of gymnastic movements (e.g. Sokol, Yunak)
      • Development of civil society and community sports
      • Concept of physical culture
      • Romanian Daciada
      • Mass sport
      • Governance, policy and organization of physical culture: relationship between the public sector and organizations of physical culture
      • Workers’ sport
      • High-performance sports during socialism: amateurism vs. professionalization
      • Physical culture and politics/international relations/diplomacy
      • Physical culture and identity issues
      • Physical culture and nationalism

Submission timeline

      • Call for abstracts deadline: 20 September 2024
      • Notification of acceptance of abstracts: 1 November 2024.
      • First draft submission: 15 January 2025.
      • Final manuscript submission: 14 March 2025.

Please send abstracts to Associate Prof. Marko Begović – – before 20 September 2024. Abstracts must be in English and 300 words (maximum) excluding the title and authors.

Contact Information

Posted by Greg Ryan – Managing Editor, International Journal of the History of Sport,, for Marko Begovic as special issue editor,

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