Michael Hau

Assoc Professor

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

<a href="https://www.monash.edu/arts/graduate_research" onclick="target='_blank';">https://www.monash.edu/arts/graduate_research</a>


Research activity per year

Personal profile


I am a historian of modern Germany and the history of medicine and the body. My recent book Performance Anxiety: Sport and Work in Germany from the Empire to Nazism (University of Toronto Press, 2017) analyses the relationship between the work and sports sciences and considers the promotion of sports in Germany from 1900 to 1945. It shows how the Nazi regime used company sports to foster competitive attitudes among workers and documents how Nazi mass organizations tried to raise the productivity of the German workforce by turning work into a sport. The “Olympics of Labor” (annual national vocational competitions with millions of participants) were designed to “carry the sporting spirit into the factories” to promote people’s willingness to work and sacrifice for the German racial community. I show how Nazism built support for its racial policies with promises of equal opportunity for all "racially" acceptable Germans.

German elites like to claim that Germany is a meritocratic “performance society” (Leistungsgesellschaft) in which performance and social upward mobility are inextricably linked. My current research examines the the history of such claims in West Germany. It is part of a larger collaborative project with Jeremy Breaden on the Meritocratic Moment in postwar West Germany and Japan which examines the social and ideological functions of meritocratic discourses in different historical and cultural contexts.

In my first book on The Cult of Health and Beauty in Germany. A Social History, 1890-1930 (University of Chicago Press, 2003) I have examined the relationship between regular and alternative medicine in Germany and analysed how both shaped understandings of disease and illness in popular hygienic culture. My focus was on discourses about physical beauty and their relationship with processes of class formation, gender identities, and racial thought.

I have a M.A. in history and anthropology from the Universtät Tübingen and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Iowa. Before coming to Monash I have worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Research area keywords

  • European History
  • German History
  • History of Fascism and Nazism
  • History of Medicine and the Body
  • Social and Cultural History
  • Sports History
  • History of Education