Keynote Speakers

Prof. Dr. Niko Besnier

University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, The Netherlands
From Global South to Global North: Sport, Gender, and Precarity

The radical transformations that global sports industries have undergone in recent decades, whereby professional sport has become a capitalist world characterized by cutthroat competition, have encouraged clubs and teams to seek sporting talent more and more afield in countries of the global South. The possibility of making it in the sports industries has had a transformative effect on the lives of young men in many countries of the global South, despite the extremely limited probability of success. In particular, this possibility has transformed the stakes of masculinity, but these transformations have also created new forms of social and economic precarity.

Niko Besnier is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam and editor-in-chief of American Ethnologist. He is currently directing a five-year project entitled "Globalisation, Sport and the Precarity of Masculinity" funded by a European Research Council Advanced Grant (2012–17).


Prof. Dr. Jim Parry

Visiting professor, Charles University, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Czech Republic
The Impossibility of Empirical Phenomenology

This paper will discuss what it is to do phenomenological research, and of course this also involves showing something of what it is not. Taking examples from psychiatry, archaeology and sport, I try to show how 'applied phenomenology' can be done; but that there can be no such thing as 'empirical phenomenology' (including ‘interpretative phenomenological analysis’). The techniques and procedures of applied phenomenology are simple and readily comprehensible, and they demonstrate the great power of a different perspective – they can help empirical researchers to understand their subjects in fresh ways. However, a researcher must have some phenomenological account embedded in her research methodology, and must be able to answer the question: what makes this ‘phenomenological’?

Jim Parry is former Head of the Philosophy Department and Head of the School of Humanities at the University of Leeds. He is now Visiting Professor in Philosophy of Sport at the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Charles University in Prague; and International Professor at the Russian International Olympic University in Sochi, Beijing Sport University, and the International Olympic Academy in Ancient Olympia.


Prof. Dr. Otmar Weiss

University of Vienna, Centre of Sport Science and University Sports, Austria
Sport, Societal Values, and Identity

As society’s values and norms can be observed and experienced in sport much more clearly than anywhere else, sport is a very appropriate means for symbolic transfer and dialogue. In fact, sport enables actors to realize and confirm their identities.
“Who am I?” is the question that defines identity. In modern society, the answer is becoming increasingly important. The area of sport is no exception, but there is in sport a distinct feature that sets it apart from other areas of life – unity of action and representation. This special dimension of sporting identities will be emphasized from an interactionist perspective and discussed in the context of societal values. Sport has an enormous potential for identity-formation, which leads to more and more people having – besides their family identity, religious identity, etc. – also a sporting identity. Involvement in sport serves to fulfill the basic human need for social recognition or identity reinforcement in many respects.

Otmar Weiss has been dean at the Faculty of Sport Science at the University of Vienna since 2016, having been Professor since 1992. Concurrently, he acted as director of the MA program Psychomotricity. He served as President of the European Association for Sociology of Sport (2001-2008) and has been teaching at the European Master in Health and Physical Activity, University of Rome “Foro Italico”, and the International Olympic Academy in Ancient Olympia.


Prof. Dr. Cora Burnett

University of Johannesburg, Department of Sport and Movement Studies, South Africa
Framing a 21st Century case for sport from the perspective of 'developing' economies

Building a case for sport within the 21st Century necessitates intensive academic scrutiny to produce the evidence that would aid developing economies to strategically harness the value of sport on their own terms. In this paper, six domains are discussed. Firstly, there is sport for social change or social transformation that partly falls within the Sport for Development and Peace domain in focusing on creating opportunities, access to leadership, role modelling and addressing ‘social ills’. Social cohesion is a related area, focusing on nation-building and peaceful co-existence. The third area addresses the educational value of sport. Health is another domain directly linked to a personal quality of life, human productivity, longevity and health cost savings. The economic benefits in contributing the GDP, manufacturing, employment, tourism and event hosting deliver mixed results. International relations and the balancing of national priorities with global collaboration for economic benefits and image-building frame this field. Developing countries are increasingly investing in high performance sport such as sport mega-events “going South” outside the global economic axis. Critical voices from multiple questions the value of hosting mega events where legacies are questionable being enveloped in free-market rhetoric and idealist notions of ‘empowerment’. Global development and policy drives encapsulated by the Sustainable Development Goals equally translate in unequal power relations and top-down development with sport delivering ‘hope’ or ‘goodwill’ rather than sustainable prosperity. Building a case requires sound evidence of what sport can do, for whom and under what circumstances.

Cora Burnett is a professor at the University of Johannesburg, lecturing in the field of the sociology of sport and research methodology. Since 2004, she acted as research leader and developed the methodology for five national studies. Currently she is the Director of the University of Johannesburg’s Olympic Studies Centre and also serves as Vice-President for the International Sociology of Sport Association.