In 2012, the Center for Hellenic Studies entered into a partnership with the International Olympic Academy (IOA) to formulate an interdisciplinary, international symposium. The symposium would invite a panel of scholars and an audience of professors and students to the IOA campus at Ancient Olympia in order to explore the relationship between athleticism and culture. A guided tour of the archaeological site would imbue the lectures with the historical resonance of the physical space. Established under the series title “Sports, Society, and Culture,” the inaugural event, “Athletic and Interstate Political Rivalries at the Olympics and Beyond: A Cross-Cultural Perspective,” took place in July of that year.
Following the success of the 2012 symposium, the 2nd symposium in 2013, “Ancient and Modern Perspectives,” introduced an additional comparative element to the proceedings, as well as breakout sessions to encourage dialogue among the participants. The third symposium in 2014, “Revisiting the Past, Understanding the Future,” was opened to University Departments from all over Greece through a selection process evaluated by conference organizers. In this incarnation the symposium’s organizers added interactive presentations and workshops addressed chiefly to undergraduates. The 4th Symposium in 2015, “Exploring Excellence,” continued to refine the workshop model, and built into the program a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Olympia. Its purpose was for its participants to explore the notion of excellence as it was experienced in the ancient and the modern Olympic tradition and life. Click here to view the Symposium’s faculty, program and abstracts of presentations.
The 5th Symposium, "To Bring Back Victory: Local and Global Aspects of Ancient Athletics and the Modern Olympics," took place July 9–13, 2016. Building on comparative aspects of earlier themes, the topic of the 2016 Symposium allowed for an in-depth exploration of the notion of victory with a focus on local and global festivities and the homecoming of the athlete. Click here to view the Symposium’s faculty, program and abstracts of presentations. In 2017, the 6th Symposium took place, July 9–13, on the topic “After the Agon: Olympic Memory in Ancient and Modern Athletics.” The 2017 meeting examined the significance of memory in post-agonistic formations of identity for athletes and their states. Click here to view the Symposium’s faculty, program and abstracts of presentations.
2018 was the seventh consecutive year the Symposium was held, July 9–13, in Ancient Olympia on the topic "Athla for the People: Democracy, Empire, and the Power of Athletics." This meeting of the IOA and CHS Symposium examined the significance of athletics in shaping socio-political discourses from antiquity to our times. Click here to view the Symposium’s faculty, program and abstracts of presentations.