Soccer as a Global Phenomenon

April 14–16

This conference is open to the public but registration is required.

[ Visit the conference website for more information and registration ]

“Soccer as a Global Phenomenon” is organized around the theme of tension between the globalizing impulse and the tenacious appeal of local attachments. Soccer offers one of the most interesting examples of that tension because it grew out of and is still, to a large degree, embedded in affective bonds to neighborhood, community, hometown, nation. If globalization merits study as one of the most significant aspects of the modern history of the world, soccer certainly represents a most appropriate venue through which students can approach and try to understand different facets of that complex process and its mutually transformative as well as constitutive relationship with the local.

We are interested in exploring different dimensions of that theme while sparking a conversation about the relevance of a study of soccer and of sports for a deeper critical understanding of global history and of globalization, which is widely recognized by historians and social scientists as a master process of the modern era. Soccer represents a prism, potentially one of the most capacious and productive prisms, through which globalization can be better understood since the game has, from the late nineteenth century onwards, been a part of global exchanges and networks, evolving from the colonial to the post-colonial era with varying trajectories in different parts of the world and interacting with various other dynamics of the processes of globalization.

Another important contribution we hope to make is in terms of the framework in the study of sports in general. Until recently, sports in general and soccer in particular have been studied mostly in individual societies, but there is also a growing trend to research different aspects of soccer as a transnational phenomenon and from a truly global perspective. Our conference will bring together the most accomplished and the most promising representatives of that trend and enable them to engage in a more sustained and sophisticated conversation with the broader literature on globalization. Given the importance of soccer to the global South, it constitutes a particularly useful theme for us also in terms of our additional goal of bringing the experts of the South into this conversation on the nature of global history.

An international conference examining globalization through the prism of soccer.

Conference Conveners

Francesco Erspamer, Professor of Romance Languages and Literature, Harvard University
Cemal Kafadar, Vehbi Koç Professor of Turkish Studies, Department of History, Harvard University
Mariano Siskind, Professor of Romance Languages and Literature, Harvard University

Location: Tsai Auditorium, S010, CGIS South, 1730 Cambridge Street

Made possible by the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, and Olympiacos Football Club, Greece.
Sponsored by the the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History, Harvard University, with generous support from the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University; the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University; the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University; and Simmons College.

Further sponsorship opportunities are available. Please contact for information.

See also: 2016, Conferences