Ronojoy Sen provides a compelling, provocative historiography of sport in precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial India as a means to tease out the historicity of the Indian state and other social formations through sport, while interjecting how India influenced local and global sporting cultures. This long history includes readings of Hindu texts such as the Mahabharata, archival material, and oral histories in interesting ways to highlight physical cultural practices of wrestling and archery. Sen covers heterogeneous social formations and multiple social actors. For example, he demonstrates how polo and cricket attracted upper-caste persons and colonial administrators while football (i.e., soccer), hockey, and kabaddi included a much wider class and caste constituency.

Unlike the religious tension in present-day India, the royal patronage of sport until the 1950s supported athletes of various ethnic and religious groups at the royal court. As a result of such royal patronage, leisure activities allowed for social mobility....

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