Carrying the torch: A decolonial approach on the Olympic traditions connections with the Eurocentric narrative of the Spirit


  • Daniel Malanski Univeristy of Paris 3


Olympic traditions, Grand narratives, Modernity/Coloniality, Weltgeist, Emergent nations


Mega-events, like World Exhibitions and the Olympics, are modern creations. Such events’ purpose and/or narratives have thus to fit within modernity so they keep attracting their audiences and justifying their existence. Some of Hegel’s narratives over the development of mankind are shared by much of the western world. In one of these narratives, the Spirit attains a higher degree of maturity in Ancient Greece, is further developed in Rome and – after a long period of absence during the middle ages - has its renaissance in Modern Europe. Deliberately or not, De Coubertin mirrored such a narrative to reinvent the games in the modern world. In this paper, we will use a decolonial approach (Mignolo, 2011) to explore how the narrative of the modern Olympics somewhat mirrors that of the World Spirit. Our objective is to understand how and why hosting the games are seen as tokens of societal development, making emergent nations use the Olympics as a symbol of prestige to support their entrance in the concert of developed nations and/or of world great powers.