Sports – Shaping Urban Social Spaces

Social Inclusion – Social Exclusion: Physical Exercise as Means between Strengthening Individuals and Integration into Collectivities – Shaping Urban Social Spaces

had been the title of the presentation I gave during the

2015 Annual Conference of the International Journal of the History of Sports — Sport, Urbanization and Social Stratification in Asian Society which took place on November 27th – 28th in Nanchang, China.


Physical exercise, beyond the mere physical aspect, is very much a social construct. But moreover it is also a means of constructing the social and as such it can be used in different ways. The presentation, taking a broad comparative perspective, will reflect on two major possibilities: we may call the one social inclusion as subordination and we can look at the other as matter of social inclusion by strengthening individuals. – This also allows us developing an understanding of new dangers of exclusion in the era of liquid modernity.

The audio of the presentation can be found here, and here are the related slides of the presentation.



sustainability manifesto

IASQ and ISS to publish sustainability manifesto

At the approach of the Climate Conference in Paris IASQ and the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) will publish a manifesto, pressing for the crossing of existing borders in academic action on sustainability and inspiring state leaders to support this. The document will focus on the urgent need for universities to address increasing unsustainability of living conditions on our planet.

The manifesto proposes

  • a comprehensive approach to the study of sustainability, overcoming traditional dividing lines
  • the creation of academic ‘change-agent centres’ to develop a common work plan and start the implementation of this plan
  • support of governments all over the world for establishing these centers and facilitating their work
    . here for more …

Sports – Urbanisation and Social Stratification

Leaving teaching and coping with life aside (well, who can say the latter is easy in a world of which modernity is not just liquid but where liquidity seems to wash away human rights on all levels – I am not writing this because I am in China!! Or perhaps I am writing it because I am here, seeing also many unexpected “white washers” coming here with there incredible “suggestions”), I am preparing the presentation for the end of this week:

The annual conference of the International Journal of the History of Sport (IJHS), taking place at Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, Nanchang, China during the weekend of 27 – 28 November 2015. The conference is jointly organized by the IJHS and the School of Sports at Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, China. The core themes are around Urbanization and Social Stratification.

Now I face the challenge to look for the key (I guess that is the meaning of key notes). And I am wondering if this is not very much about overcoming the limited understanding that remains frequently left out when talking about inclusion and also urbanisation.

  • The one aspect is that we discuss inclusion too often without (sufficiently) considering integrity as dialectical/relational issue and part and parcel of inclusion – and of course, with this we have to look also at the contradictions.
  • These may highlight, coming to the second aspect, that urbanisation is not just about space. Perhaps space is as such even the least important aspect, the multiple identities being the foundation that merges into the melting pot as which societies and parts thereof are frequently seen – but while we talk about such melting pots we still, and increasingly act along the ideas of gated communities.

Good stews need a recipe – it is not just throwing different stuff into a pot; and it is not about trying to separate them afterwards again …

Well, some desk work to be done, not allowing much exercise though …. – but such thinking is a bit like chess, and chess is sports, right?

Guess you can read at some stage about it in the International Journal of the History of Sport.

Studying, Responsibility and Ethics

Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.
Albert Einstein

I uploaded a series of presentations given to students of economics at 中南林业科技大学班戈学院/Bangor College CSUFT in Changsha, Hunan Province in China.

The title/subject of the course these presentations introduced is “Learning Skills” – the recommended book rather stupidifying, assuming students are naive, pursuing a formalist approach to learn – and moreover reducing academic work on the approach: “Give me an answer. We will then look for the question.” It is also the way in which we ignore what is attributed to Einstein’s wisdom, namely that
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
I tried in these lectures to raise awareness of the importance of questions, working towards an preliminary or introductory understanding of methodology.
And I tried also to make students aware of the need to counter the
 The lectures used in particular arts and history (and a bit of arts history) as means to delve into different aspects of the relevant topics. – Although there are a few references immediately to my Economics course her ein China, the presentation is relevant (and can be understood) beyond this.
The videos can be found here – they also show the used slides (sorry for the audio-quality – but one gets used to it after a while).
The last lecture, given shortly after the attacks in the middle of November 2015, draws particular attention on ethical aspects and questions of responsibility.
Revised versions of the slides can be found on my researchgate site at

No-Cash-on-the-Table Principle

… or about the deforming of human minds …
Measuring the World – the title of a novel by Daniel Kehlmann …
 … The title of another novel could be Simplification of the World … the textbook version exists already
Still, the No-Cash-on-the-Table Principle is important. It tells us, in effect, that there are only three ways to earn a big payoff: to work especially hard; to have some unusual skill, talent of training; or simply to be lucky. The person who finds a big bank note on the pavement is lucky, as are are many of the investors whose stocks perform better than average. Other investors whose stocks do well achieve their gains through hard work or special talent. For example, the legendary investor Warren buffet, whose portfolio has grown in value at almost three times the stock market average for the past 40 years, spends long hours studying annual financial reports and has a remarkably keen eye for the telling detail. Thousands of others work just as hard yet fail to beat the market averages.
(Moore McDowell et altera, 2012: Principles of Economics; London et altera: Mc Graw hill. Higher Education; 3rd European Edition: 220)
It is always interesting to see how economics is able to separate distribution from production – thus resulting in assessments that focus on distribution, pleasing for “a bit more of justice”, and reducing production on an annex to distribution, trusting the markets and fortune.
There is something else that is interesting: my students, for example, immediately ask, similar stuff to that reflected in the Questions from a Worker Who Reads, and they immediately a surprised when looking the Warrens & Friends. It seems that only economists have this strange ability to reduce the world on some kind of formula that reflects the distribution of something without bothering too much about the from where things come.
Mad cow disease and “the discovery of a new breed of chickens that gain more weight than existing breeds that consume the same amount of food” (from the same “bible of Simplification” by Moore McDowell) just appear like in the ancient world gods turned up: today they are just the gods of the “market” I talked about on another occasion.

Ho paura perché siamo noi a fare paura

Davvero, non ci sono risposte semplici

That is why we may also fear “safe places”

Ci dicono, in molti, in queste ore: non dobbiamo avere paura. Io invece ho paura. Voglio avere paura. Non dell’ineluttabile possibilità che questo orrore possa colpire me, o i miei cari; credo che per questo dovremmo affidarci alla nostra collettività, abbracciarci, dalla piccola alla grande, fino su in alto alle istituzioni che ci rappresentano e che dobbiamo aiutare a proteggerci.

Ho paura di chi dice: non sono umani. Ho paura delle risposte semplici alle domande complesse. Ho paura delle espressioni come: Parigi brucia. Ho paura di quello che può succedere: delle mamme che benedicono sulla porta i figli pronti alla guerra, ho paura dei numeri che prendono il sopravvento sulle storie, ho paura delle lacrime sulle bare che voglio altre lacrime su altre bare su altre bare su altre bare. Mi fanno paura i politici che hanno paura. Le frontiere europee chiuse unilateralmente senza logica apparente. Ho paura dei coprifuoco, dei concerti annullati, delle cene al ristorante con un occhio sempre fisso sulla porta.

Ho paura del Bignami della Fallaci. Mi fanno paura nella stessa frase “vaticinio” e “Sottomissione”. Quelli che pensano “scappiamo finché siamo in tempo”, come i bambini che chiedevano a Primo Levi: perché non siete scappati prima? Ho paura di chi mette tutto insieme nello stesso calderone, di quelli che non nascondono l’entusiasmo di pronunciare la parola “guerra”, ho paura anche del Piave che pure non ne può nulla e stava lì quando ero più felice. Ho paura di saperne troppo poco, di non trovare le parole o di dirne troppe, e fuori luogo. Ho paura della rabbia istantanea sulle notizie non verificate, una rabbia che rimane attaccata sulla pelle come una crosta, un trasferello nella testa anche se la notizia è smentita. Ho paura dei paragoni a capocchia, della banalità del male che non mi ha mai convinto, del sentirsi estranei, come se l’umanità non fosse sempre una e una sola, nel bene e nel male.

Mi fa paura anche “il tuo amico ti fa sapere che sta bene”. Si, ho una paura fottuta del tasto “sto bene” appeso sempre al collo come un salvavita per anziani, come una nuova coperta di Linus collettiva che non potrebbe che toglierci il respiro. Io non sono buonista. Non sono buono, sono cattivo. Proprio perché sono cattivo ho paura: perché in fondo, alla fine, a farmi paura siete tutti voi, siamo tutti noi.


Es ist immer ein Zusammengehen und ein … auf der einen Seite genau wissen, was man möchte und im selben Moment dennoch offen sein. In der Vorstellung oder im Konzert bleibt die Freiheit, diese Offenheit fuer den Moment, und zwar fuer den Moment von jedem von uns: was kommt nicht dazu, oder was bestimmt der Moment, was bestimmt der Raum, … also ich habe immer das Gefühl, mit ihm ist es eigentlich dies Ideal man hat aus den feinsten Materialiden und mit dem perfektesten Handwerk eine Teppich geknüpft und dann laesst man ihn fliegen – und er fliegt tatsächlich.
(Waltraud Maier)

… the most wonderful thing … you get to the point you speak the same language where you hear the music the same way and an orchestra will only play music, and not as a collection of notes when everybody can really hear the music in their head in a very similar way.

(Daniel Barenboim)

From a documentary on Daniel Barenboim