Jews and British Sport: integration, ethnicity and anti-semitism, c1880-c1960




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De Montfort University


Thesis or dissertation

Peer reviewed


Between the 1890s and the 1960s, sport had a distinctive and varied impact on the social, cultural, political and economic life of the British Jewish community. During this period, Anglo-Jewry developed a clear sporting tradition, in both a direct and indirect sense, and their participation in the world of British sport had a significant impact on processes and discourses surrounding integration, ethnicity and anti-Semitism.

Through a broad analysis of archival materials, newspaper sources and oral history, this thesis seeks to examine the influence that sport exerted on the Jewish community – paying particular attention to the ways in which physical recreation affected the internal dynamics of the community and influenced Jewish relations and interactions with the wider non-Jewish population. As will be shown, whilst sport is a useful lens through which to view socio-cultural development within Anglo-Jewish history, evidence suggests that physical recreation also had a notable and noticeable direct impact on Jewish life within Britain.

Although Jewish sport history is an expanding field in an international context, it has been largely ignored within British academic research. Within the historiography of Anglo-Jewry, little attention has been paid to the socio-cultural impact of sporting participation. Similarly, within research concerning British sport history, race and immigration are themes that have been generally overlooked.

As well as redressing important historiographical gaps, this thesis will also help expand our knowledge of the process behind minority integration and will further demonstrate the wider social importance, and the extensive and varied applications, of the historical study of sport. This thesis demonstrates that sport has been a key area for the creation, maintenance and erosion of Anglo-Jewish identity and has been an arena for the development, reinforcement and undermining of Jewish stereotypes. Sport, effectively, assumed a central role in Jewish life throughout this time period and was a pivotal factor in many social, cultural and political changes affecting the Jewish community of Britain.



Jews, Jewish, Anglo-Jewry, sport, physical recreation, integration, assimilation, Anglicisation, ethnicity, identity, anti-Semitism, racism, discrimination



Research Institute

Institute of History