PhD defence J. (Joost) Jansen


Prof.dr. G.B.M. Engbersen


Prof.dr. G. Oonk

Thursday 18 Jun 2020, 11:30 - 13:00
PhD defence
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On Thursday 18 June 2020, J. Jansen will defend his PhD dissertation, entitled: ‘Who Can Represent the Nation? Migration, citizenship, and nationhood in the Olympic Games’.

This dissertation forms an inquiry into the enduring relevance of Eric Hobsbawm’s observation that ‘sportsmen representing their nation or state’ in international sporting competitions are ‘primary expressions of their imagined communities’. More specifically, this study is about the implications of his claim that ‘the imagined community of millions seems more real as a team of eleven named people’, especially in times when the hyphen between the nation and state is in crisis and, according to some political readings, nation-states are under attack. By studying public and academic debates about the eligibility of Olympic athletes with migration backgrounds, I aim to examine the interrelation between migration, citizenship, and nationhood. First, changes in numbers and origin of foreign-born Olympic athletes are examined from a comparative historical perspective. Second, these changes are connected to key debates in citizenship literature to investigate who is formally eligible to represent the nation, and whether such changes are indicative of a marketisation of citizenship. Third, a leap is made from formal to moral conceptions of ‘who can represent the nation’. In this way, it is shown how taken-for-granted notions of ‘genuine’ national belonging underlie attempts to further regularise and police the concept of sporting nationality with the aim of preserving authentic international competitions and (genuine) links between athletes and nations.

The PhD defences will not take place publicly in the Senate Hall or Professor Andries Queridoroom due to the coronavirus. The candidates will defend their thesis online.

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