Symposium: ”Ali in Un/Expected Spaces”

Symposium: ”Ali in Un/Expected Spaces” University of Turku
May 17-19, 2017    


Abstract Deadline: November 1, 2016

Muhammad Ali is frequently described as a transcendent figure in sport, politics, and culture. In scholarship as in popular representations, he has often been depicted as the most important cultural icon of the twentieth century.  With his passing in June 2016, Ali’s limitless impact has been made evident once again. In efforts to pin down the essence of his significance, questions are being raised about the truth and authenticity about Ali’s character, career, and legacy in and out of the ring: Does Ali transcend sport? Does Ali transcend race? Is Ali the Greatest? Yet no singular view or image of Ali can be established. With access to new digitized sources and global perspectives, stories of Ali continue to unfold.

This symposium, organized by the John Morton Center for North American Studies, will critically assess the multiple discourses, representations, and imagery of Muhammad Ali. The symposium will explore the ways in which Ali appears in un/expected spaces, beyond conventional readings. We are seeking to explore such questions as: What is Ali’s twenty-first century significance? How do we interpret the global meanings of Ali?  Is sport central or peripheral to understanding Ali? Whose voices and choices depict Ali?  How will commemorations change the legacy of Ali? The symposium calls for previously unpublished papers or creative works addressing the varied, often contradictory, meanings and interpretations of Ali: 

  • in the Digital Age

  • in Power Relations

  • in Social Theory

  • in Visual Imagery

  • in Storytelling

  • in the World

  • in Memoriam.

Please email abstracts of 250 words for either paper presentations or creative works, together with a max. 150-word bio, including name, institutional affiliation and position, phone number and postal and email addresses, to jmc[at] byNovember 1, 2016.

Organizers: Dr. Benita Heiskanen, email: benita.heiskanen[at] & Dr. Samira Saramo, email: samira.saramo[at]