Call for Papers | Sports and Foreign Politics: The Nordic Small States during the Cold War | Workshop, Stockholm University, November 2024. Call ends April 1. 2024

(Freepik, modified)

The relationship between sports and foreign politics is a contested one. This is the case in our own time, in which, for example, Russia has been banned from international sport events, and countries are competing for the opportunity to host large events such as the Olympic Games or the Football World Championship. The contested relationship is far from new. However, in historical research, focus is often directed towards super-powers such as the USA and the Soviet Union. The small-state perspective is almost absent, especially when speaking of the Cold War, i.e., the period c. 1945‒1990.

To enhance the small state and Nordic perspective on international sports politics, we are inviting scholars from all disciplines to a workshop at Stockholm University, planned to take place in November 2024. The topic is the relationship between sport and foreign policy in the Nordic Countries during the Cold War. This topic should be understood broadly, both as the efforts of government agencies to use sports to promote their policies, and debates and strategies to handle questions in relation to foreign politics among sports federations and athletes.

The Nordic states are well suited for exploring the small-state perspective of sports and foreign politics, as well as for comparisons. After 1945, all Nordic countries had peace, were independent small states, and engaged in inter-Nordic cooperation. At the same time, they differed in relation to foreign politics. While Denmark and Norway joined NATO, Finland was forced into a close relationship with the Soviet Union, and Sweden chose a neutral position. The countries also entered the period with very different experiences of the Second World War – regarding their sports movements as well as the society in general.

We welcome studies of single Nordic countries as well as transnational and/or comparative studies. As possible research topics, we wish to mention these as inspiration:

      • Debates and conflicts concerning sports boycotts directed against dictatorships, racist regimes, and in times of war and international aggression.
      • Debates on and efforts (successful or failed) to host Olympic Games and other international sports events.
      • Other uses of sportsmen and -women as agents of “soft power” in international diplomacy, as well as international political activism of individual athletes.

At the workshop, we want to establish a network of Nordic scholars interested in the historical relationships between sports and foreign politics. We also plan to publish an anthology on the topic, written in English for an international readership. The papers and presentations at the workshop will form the basis of this book.

We are applying for external funding for the workshop, and we hope that this will cover the costs for travelling and accommodation.

Are you interested in participating? Please send us a short presentation of yourself and an abstract of your paper or presentation. The deadline is April 1st, 2024.

Dr. JENS LJUNGGREN
Dept. of History, Stockholm University jens.ljunggren@historia.su.se

Dr. MARTIN ERICSSON
Dept. of History, Lund University martin.ericsson@hist.lu.se


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