‘What is a Beautiful Body?’

Late Ottoman ‘Sportsman’ Photographs and New Notions of Male Corporeal Beauty

in Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
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This article examines the emergence and spread of the ‘sportsman’ genre of Ottoman photography in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century Istanbul. The ‘sportsman photograph’ depicted young men posing shirtless or wearing tight-fitting athletic attire, flexing their muscles and exhibiting their bodies. These images were embedded in a wider set of athletic and leisure activities and constituted novel social and photographic practices. By tracing the deployment of ‘sportsman’ photographs in sports clubs and the press, I argue that they cemented homosocial bonds, normalized and popularized new notions of masculinity, confessionalized the male body and reconfigured the ways in which Ottoman Muslims, Christians and Jews performed and conveyed their commitment to middle-class notions of masculinity and the self.

‘What is a Beautiful Body?’

Late Ottoman ‘Sportsman’ Photographs and New Notions of Male Corporeal Beauty

in Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication

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Figures

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    Figure 1

    Nicolas Alibrantis, a member of the Hercules Gymnastics Association Kurtuluş Sports Club Archive 1906

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    Figure 2

    An unnamed member of the Galatasaray Physical Training Cub Galatasaray Museum Archive Album 42 undated

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    Figure 3

    Members of the Hercules Gymnastics Association Kurtuluş Sports Club Archive, undated

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    Figure 4

    Members of the Jewish Gymnastics Club of Constantinople: Starting from left to right, J. Kornfeld, L. Shoenmass, Albert Ziffer private archive of Daniel Ziffer 1907

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    Figure 5

    Front page of one of Istanbul’s multilingual sports magazines Futbol, 16 November 1910

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    Figure 6

    Front page of one of Istanbul’s multilingual sports magazines Marmnamarz, February 1911

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    Figure 7

    Advertisement for Fortin pills that combat fatigue. Surrounding the image of the muscular sportsman are the words ‘strength, health and youth’ (kuvvet, sıhhat, gençlik). İkdam, 20 September 1920: 4

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    Figure 8

    Photograph of Dad Dadian, winner of the ‘beauty competition’ Marmnamarz, November 1911: 297

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    Figure 9

    Photograph illustrating the strong, robust bodies of readers Marmnamarz, April 1911: 88

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    Figure 10

    Photograph illustrating the strong, robust bodies of readers İdman’s section entitled ‘The Exhibition of Robust Bodies’, İdman, 24 January 1913: 282

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