Recognizing geographic and cultural alterity through sport? Institutionalizing the Arctic Games (1967-2004)


  • Sylvain Ferez University of Montpellier
  • Sébastien Ruffié University of French West Indies
  • Stéphane Héas University of Rennes 2


Arctic Games, Olympics, Recognition, Pride, Justice


The article studies the emergence and growth of the Arctic Games on the basis of a comparison with other attempts of re-appropriation of the Olympic model. How was the autonomist strategy that founds these games born? Beyond the question of access to sporting practices, the goal is to show that this strategy aims at engaging a cultural transformation through a renegotiation of the norms and values which are carried by the dominant Western sports practices. Using documents archived on the official website of the Arctic Games as well as second hand data, the analysis sheds light on the manner in which this sporting event is a part of a strategy fighting for recognition (Honneth 1992). As a vector for cultural pride, it constitutes a call for justice (Rawls 1971) in reaction to the minorisation, or even the contempt, experienced by the populations which are native of Northern Canada.

Author Biographies

Sylvain Ferez, University of Montpellier

Sylvain Ferez is an associate professor at the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education in the University of Montpellier, France. His research explores sport, health, and minorities experiences at the intersection of historical and sociological inquiry. Since 2015, Dr. Ferez is the head of the Research Team “Heath, education, handicap situationsâ€.

Sébastien Ruffié, University of French West Indies

Sébastien Ruffié is a lecturer in social sciences in the Department of Sport Sciences at the University of French West Indies, Guadeloupe, France. His research explores sport and disability experiences in postcolonial context, but also the social organizations dedicated to them in this context during the second part of the twentieth century.

Stéphane Héas, University of Rennes 2

Stéphane Héas is an associate professor in sociology at the Department of Science and Technology for Physical Education and Sports of the University of Rennes 2. His research concerns sport participation and the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities and minorities to engage in sporting activity.