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The Olympic Games and Their Global Political Significance

Public Lecture by Anthropologist Susan Brownell on June 1, 2015, at Freie Universität Berlin

№ 146/2015 from May 28, 2015

The Olympic Games and the rise of Asia is the subject of a presentation to be given by Susan Brownell, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, on June 1, 2015, at Freie Universität Berlin. Brownell will discuss the fact that all the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup games after 2012 took place, and will take place, outside the Western world. Three of them will be in Asia. She examines to what extent this signifies the end of the current world order. The lecture is public, and admission is free.

In late 2014 when Oslo withdrew its bid to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, only Almaty and Beijing remained in the competition for the global mega event, with the host to be decided in July. According to Brownell, Western media and commentators have called this a crisis for the Olympic Games and perhaps for Western liberal democracies as a whole. The Western media often argue that major sporting events can now be hosted only by "dictatorships" while democracies are too constrained by public opposition to the huge costs.

Susan Brownell is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and was an academic expert working with the organizers of the Beijing Olympic Games and Shanghai World Expo. In her presentation she will argue that the perception of the costs of Olympic Games should be put into the proper context, and that Asia is just joining a world system that the West still dominates – for now. According to Brownell, the most recent investigations against FIFA officials represent an attempt by the Western powers to regain some control over world sports.

Time and Location

  • Monday, June 1, 2015, 4 – 6 p.m.
  • Freie Universität Berlin, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, Room K25/11,14195 Berlin; subway station: Dahlem-Dorf or Thielplatz (U3)

Link to the Program


Further Information

Stefanie Schäfer, Graduate School of Asian Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: + 49 30 838-60423, Email: stefanie.schaefer@fu-berlin.de