International Conference "Athletics, Society & Identity"

The Foundation of the Hellenic World organized the international conference "Athletics, Society and Identity". The conference took place from May 26th to May 29th 2004 in the new Building 7 of FHW's cultural center, Hellenic Cosmos, in Athens, Greece.

The inspiration for the organization of the conference was the Olympic Games of Athens. The subject of the conference was the result of the ascertainment that the study of the social and cultural dimensions of athletics has become an established field of research within the framework of the Humanities and the Social Sciences. At the same time, athletic events become increasingly important in our modern and post-modern societies and economies. The conference dealt with sport as a social phenomenon in Classical Antiquity and Modern Times. Its aim was to show how sport reflects and affects in its turn the social, political, economic, cultural and ideological realities of its time. The conference emphasized how individuals and social groups shape and experience the multiple aspects of ethnic, national, social and cultural identities through their participation in athletic activities and events.

The scientists responded with great enthusiasm. Particularly significant was the fact that well-known, specialized researchers from all over the world agreed to participate, as it is obvious from the list of speakers. The conference provided the opportunity to hold, for the first time in Greece, an open discussion of the highest academic standards regarding the social dimensions of athletics through the analytical and methodological tools of History, Sociology, Social Anthropology, International Studies, Leisure, Gender and Cultural Studies.

Ms Dora Bakoyannis, the mayor of Athens, addressed the conference, while Ms Fani Palli-Petralia, Deputy Minister of Education, sent her address. Mr Lazaros Efraimoglou, the President of the Foundation, opened the conference. The opening speech was delivered by the internationally renowned Hellenist Mr Jean-Pierre Vermant.

The last day of the conference, which included the synopsis and the conclusions of the conference, as well as a discussion took place at the Academy of Athens, where the concluding speech was delivered by the academic Mr Konstantinos Despotopoulos.

During the other two days of the conference interesting speeches were heard and various discussions took place. The speakers, from various countries and cultures, had the opportunity to exchange views and to demonstrate the differences in dealing with similar phenomena.

    The speeches fell into four thematic units:

  • On the Threshold of the 21st Century
  • Athletics, Social Groups and Ideology
  • Athletics, Identity and Gender
  • Athletics, Symbolism and Art

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