Kääriku Winter School

Press release — 4 February 2014


4th International Winter School on “Sports and Politics” to start on Sunday

“Sports and Politics: Putting Sochi in Perspective” is the title of this year’s 4th Winter School in Kääriku from 9-15 February, jointly organised by the Department of Applied Political Science at the Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Moscow and the University of Tartu Centre for EU-Russia Studies (CEURUS). The idea behind this international student gathering is that athletic mega-events are usually embedded in diverse contexts the significance of which goes far beyond the realm of sports. Indeed, recent media debates on homophobia and gay rights in Russia as well as reactions to the suicide bombings in Volgograd that were clearly linked to the Olympic games in Sochi indicate that such mega-events often set off debates about most diverse issues, including soft power, security, human rights, the environment, economic development, local democracy, etc.

Global sports can thus be discussed as an important element of mass culture, entertainment industries, and commercial advertisement. By the same token, in many countries sports became a biopolitical (i.e. projected on human bodies) substitution of national ideology, which brings to life a peculiar aesthetics of sport as a core element of policy-supportive public performances. For a number of reasons, the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi have been particularly controversial, and thus provide a useful starting point for discussing wider implications of mega-events and drawing international comparisons. Getting together in Estonian countryside during the Sochi Olympics, a group of scholars and practitioners coming from Estonia, Finland, Germany and Russia will share their knowledge and experience with an international group of students.

Altogether 25 students will participate in this year’s Winter School having successfully passed a competitive selection process at the HSE and the UT. They come from Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Estonia, the UK, Latvia, Lithuania and Azerbaijan and are currently studying in either Tartu or Moscow.

It has become a tradition during these Kääriku schools that the programme will combine academic deliberations and group work with sports activities in and around the beautiful southern landscape of Estonia. The latter will be all the more fun as it will be accompanied by watching the games and discussing results in the evening Sauna.

Learn more about the programme and instructors at the 2014 Winter School (pdf)

Learn more about previous CEURUS Winter and Summer Schools