IOC Culture and Olympic Education Forum : Overview and Definition

Speaking both as a Coubertin biographer and as a professional cultural anthropologist, my analysis will consist largely of an up-date of what the founder already understood, and understood perhaps better than many of his successors do today.

The hegemonic of “default” conception of culture that still dominated Olmypic Lausanne today may be dangerously narrow and seriously out of touch with the “cultures of ‘culture'” dominant or emergent in other sectors and regions of contemporary world affairs.

Coubertin has thoroughly deconstructed the monolithic humanistic understanding of culture as cultivation into several different aspects and formulations. Culture is not only fine arts, but also folk arts, crafts, and music. Culture is language and poetics. Culture is also the logic of social organization, multiple conceptions of life, and systems of belief.

If the IOC Culture and Education Commission, the new IOC Department of Education and Culture, the Olympic Museum, the International Olympic Academy, and all of the other key agencies and sites abandoned their claims to being “fountains of universal truth” and instead set themselves the alternative task of becoming communicative centers and laboratories of multi-cultural exploration, where all of the different Olympic cultures assembled to endeavor to articulate to one another, and in their own ways and terms, the multiplicities of cultural understandings and symbolizations of Olympic meanings, then the IOC might have its world cultural relevance back.

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