Participant Info

First Name
Johanna
Last Name
Mellis
Affiliation
Ursinus College
Website URL
https://www.ursinus.edu/live/profiles/4008-johanna-mellis
Keywords
Modern European History, Cold War, Central-Eastern European History, Oral History, Sport, Communist Sport, Memory, Communism, Revolution, International Organizations, Sporting Migration, Socio-Cultural History, Public History, World and Global History, Cultural Diplomacy.
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

Photo
About Me

I am an Assistant Professor of World History at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania. I have been awarded several grants to conduct my research, such as a Fulbright IIE grant, and the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Studies Centre PhD Grant.

My manuscript-in-progress, titled The Politics of Cooperation in Cold War Sport: Hungarian Athletes, Sport Leaders, and the IOC, 1945-1992 examines how and why Hungarian athletes, socialist sport leaders, and the IOC softened their tactics in order to work with each other in the decades following the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. My manuscript demonstrates an uncharted aspect of Cold War sport that—in an arena typically defined by fierce East-West battles—highlights the agency and cooperation of each group. The work focuses on athletes’ voices in particular to illustrate how and why socialist citizens engaged with the state by asserting their limited agency within the spheres of domestic politics and international culture. The manuscript moreover illustrates the concrete ways in which athletes influenced international sport, and how local cultures and evolving policies influenced the IOC and its governance of sport worldwide.

As part of this research, I conducted thirty oral history interviews with Hungarian athletes, coaches, and sport leaders. By basing my research in my narrators’ memories, their voices are the driving voice in telling the story about cooperation through sport during the Cold War.

As an oral historian and former Division I swimmer who has endured sexual harassment and sexism in both arenas, I am an enormous proponent of advocating for the rights and protection of interviewers/researchers and athletes who identify as female, black, and/or as belonging to another minority group.

I am also working on my second project on the transnational experiences of athletes who defected from the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. My first article from the project, titled “Cold War Politics and the California Running Scene: The Experiences of Mihály Iglói and László Tábori in the Golden State” was published in the Journal of Sport History in spring 2019https://muse.jhu.edu/article/719324

I teach courses on World and European history such as “Global History of WWI,” “Cold War in Europe: Immigrants, Labor, and Gender,” and “Oral History: Collecting All Voices.”

Recent Publications

“From Defectors to Cooperators: The Impact of 1956 on Athletes, Sport Leaders, and Sport Policy in Socialist Hungary.” Contemporary European History. (accepted May 2019).

“Cold War Politics and the California Running Scene: The Experiences of Mihály Iglói and László Tábori in the Golden State,” Journal of Sport History Vol. 46, No. 1 (Spring 2019), 62-81.

Review of The Olympic Games, the Soviet Sports Bureaucracy, and the Cold War: Red Sport, Red Tape by Jenifer Parks, Olympika: The International Journal of Olympic Studies 26 (2017), 99-102.

Review of Playing for Equality: Oral Histories of Women Leaders in the Early Years of Title IX by Diane LeBlanc and Allys Swanson, Sport History Review, Vol. 48, No. 2 (November 2017), 202-203.

Review of Between the States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea During World War II by Holly Case, Alpata: Journal of History, Vol. VIII (Spring 2011), 112-113.

Media Coverage
Country Focus
Hungary
Expertise by Geography
Eastern Europe
Expertise by Chronology
Modern, 20th century, 21st century
Expertise by Topic
Diplomacy, Economic History, Migration & Immigration, Politics, Public History, Sports