(Il)liberal Nation Projection Through Sport, Culture, Entertainment, and International Broadcasting

Activity: Participating in or organising event(s)Organising a conference, workshop, exhibition, performance, inquiry, course etcResearch


Symposium: “(Il)liberal Nation Projection Through Sport, Culture, Entertainment, and International Broadcasting”
Date: 20 and 21 October 2022
Location: The University of Manchester’s campus and online
Contact: vitaly.kazakov@manchester.ac.uk and dmitrijs.andrejevs@manchester.ac.uk
Registration: please register your attendance here: https://forms.gle/JvC9RPjiiWUCeU1j6

The upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar presents a fruitful opportunity to examine how illiberal regimes project the nation via the staging of sport, cultural, and entertainment media events. This workshop brings together scholars and non-academic stakeholders to explore and compare nation projection strategies of illiberal and democratic states across different contexts, channels, and platforms in the digital age.

The concept of ‘nation projection’ subsumes classic public and cultural diplomacy efforts and soft power activities, such as the hosting of sport and entertainment events. The term also refers to state-sponsored campaigns of external influence activities including international broadcasting and covert meddling in the affairs of foreign states. Sporting and cultural events and campaigns staged by Russia (e.g., the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2018 FIFA World Cup), China (the 2008 Summer and 2022 Winter Olympics), the United Arab Emirates (Expo 2020), Brazil (the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics), and other states in recent years have prompted discussions about the consequences of nation projection. Liberal regimes’ responses to and participation in such events and projects have also been widely addressed. The overlap between nation projection and media events provides an important arena for understanding how the sphere of contemporary international politics is produced and shaped by political elites, media, and the public.

This symposium seeks to address some of these issues by expanding debates and bringing together comparative perspectives on how nation projection differs across: 1) sporting, popular culture, and international media events and channels; 2) liberal and illiberal contexts; 3) different kinds of illiberal regimes; and 4) various media formats and technological platforms.

Contributions from the following fields and related topics will be explored at the workshop:
1)Sporting mega-events and their legacies
2)Sports diplomacy and ‘sportswashing’
3)Cultural and public diplomacy
4)Nation projection through state-sponsored and independent cultural and artistic production (both ‘high’ and popular culture)
5)Global media events and their audiences
6)International broadcasting, including informational influence via both traditional and new media
7)Propaganda and its effectiveness in the digital age

This multifaceted focus is reflected in the two day programme (access the detailed schedule and programme in the docuements section of this page):

Day 1: 20 October
Panel 1: Nation projection through sport: ‘soft power’, ‘sportswashing’, ‘sports diplomacy’
Participants: Paul Michael Brannagan and Seth Joseph Perkin; James Dorsey; Kaixiao Jiang; Adam Dinsmore; and Laeed Zaghlami.
Keynote 1: “Sport and the ‘Illiberal Turn’: Globalization, Soft Power, and International Development”
Richard Giulianotti
Panel 2: Nation projection through sport: Governance, Values, and Sport Diplomacy Participants: Barrie Houlihan; Solomon Ilevbare; Malte Frank; Michael Skey; and Chris Harvey.
Keynote 2: “The Hard Edge of Soft Power: Mega-Events, Geopolitics, and Making Nations Great Again”
Sven Daniel Wolfe
Panel 3: Sporting events’ legacies and audiences
Participants: Tom Fabian; Jiri Zakravsky; Valerio della Sala; James Saunders; and Richard Arnold

Day 2: 21 October
Panel 4: Nation projection through media: the case of Russia
Participants: Rui Wang; Maxime Audinet; members of the RUSINFORM research project; Maksim Alyukov; Mikhail Batuev; and Anton Shekhovtsov (presentation on Day 1)
Keynote 3 “Rethinking agency in il(liberal) nation projection: representing, resisting and reconstructing the nation in wartime”
Precious Chatterje-Doody
Keynote 4 “Projecting Russia in a Mediatized World: Recursive Nationhood”
Stephen Hutchings
Panel 5: Nation projection through cultural production and outputs: cross-regime and historical perspectives
Participants: Pınar Özdemir; Peter Rollberg; Kanika Ahuja; Jonathan Ervine; and Marco Biasioli.

The symposium keynote speakers are: Richard Giulianotti (Professor of Sociology and UNESCO Chair in Sport, Physical Activity and Education for Development at Loughborough University), Sven Daniel Wolfe (Lecturer at the University of Lausanne, author of More Than Sport: Soft Power and Potemkinism in the 2018 Men's Football World Cup in Russia), Stephen Hutchings (Professor of Russian Studies at The University of Manchester, author of Projecting Russia in a Mediatized World), and Precious Chatterje-Doody (Lecturer in Politics and International Studies at the Open University, co-author of Russia Today and Conspiracy Theory: People, Power and Politics on RT).

We look forward to seeing you in person or online!
Members of the organising committee are grateful to the NWSSDTP, ESRC, and the University of Manchester for their support of this symposium.
Period20 Oct 202221 Oct 2022
Event typeWorkshop
Degree of RecognitionInternational