Research Output per year
Dr. Udo Merkel is a Senior Lecturer in International Events Management. He holds various UG and PG degrees from British and German universities in the Social Sciences, Sport Sciences and Educational Studies. Over the last twenty-five years, he has worked at a number of universities in mainland Europe, Latin America and South-East Asia. At the School of Sport and Service Management he teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate students (in the UK and abroad), and supervises PhD students. His lectures and seminars focus on the critical, social-scientific analysis of the international events industry. He is particularly interested in the sociology, politics and economics of sport and hosting and participating in mega events, in particular sports events, and has published widely in this area.
After visiting North Korea twice for research purposes, he has produced a large number of papers on the socio-economic, cultural and political significance of festivals and spectacles in this secretive country paying particular attention to the role of events as a foreign policy/diplomatic tool. He regularly comments on these issues in various media outlets in the USA, Asia, Australia and Europe.
Over the last few years, he has edited two cutting edge books: Power, Politics and International Events (2014, Routledge) and Identity Discourses and Communities in International Events, Festivals and Spectacles (2015, Palgrave Macmillan) drawing on the expertise of SaSM colleagues, outstanding postgraduate and PhD students. He also has a keen interest in comparative European sport studies and football fan cultures, and has advised the European Union, the Council of Europe and various governments on these issues.
(I) Sociology and Politics of Sport, in particular sport and sport events as a foreign policy/ diplomatic tool;
(II) The critical, social-scientific analysis of the international events industry which includes sociology, politics and economics of hosting and participating in mega events and mega events;
(III) Globalisation and the political economy of sport, in particular football;
(IV) Sport and politics in divided Korea;
(V) Identity and community issues in sport, leisure and international events
I am able to supervise doctoral students in any area connected to the social history, sociology and politics of culture, sport, leisure and international events. My particular focus has been recent developments in the international (sports) events industry, for example the politics of mega such as the Olympic Games and the Soccer World Cup. I am also interested in sociological, political and cultural questions around other high-profile events and sports including those around issues of social inequalities, conflicts, fandom, management, globalisation, commercialisation, identity formation, the production and consumption of sport, leisure and events, and the role of place and locality.
My research is both empirical and theoretical and I am happy to supervise students who want to examine sport and leisure in different cultures, for example Asia and Latin America, and/or who are interested in comparative studies. As an active sports fan, I enjoy connecting my academic work with my own travelling, sporting and cultural interests.
Approach to teaching
“The educator has the duty of not being neutral.” (Paulo Freire, 1982)
As a critical social scientist my teaching is driven by the endeavour to make this world a better place, and to turn students into reflective, critical thinkers, citizens and practitioners.
This is what my students have to say about my teaching: “scary German” … “very knowledgeable” … “intellectual heavyweight” … “never boring” … “great motivator” … "keeping the students engaged and enthused" ... “most down-to-earth lecturer” … “he is very structured ” … "allows room for discussion and further understanding" ... “he has accessible tutor hours and is always is willing to help ” … “strives for perfection” ...
Most recent publications, i.e. over the last five years
Merkel, U. (2014) (ed.) Power, Politics and International Events: Socio-cultural Analyses of Festivals and Spectacles. London: Routledge
Merkel, U. (2015) (ed.) Identity Discourses and Communities in International Events, Festivals and Spectacles. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan
JOURNAL ARTICLES (peer-reviewed)
Merkel, U. (2013) ‘Flags, Feuds and Frictions: North Korea and the London 2012 Olympics’, in The International Journal of the History of Sport– Special Issue: "London 2012: Prism for East Asian Political Preoccupations", (edited by Mangan, T. and Chu, M. P.), Vol. 30, No. 15; pp. 1810-1822
Merkel, U. (2014) ‘The Politics of Sport and Identity in North Korea’, in The International Journal of the History of Sport – Special Issue: "The Politics of Sport and Identity is Asia " (edited by Fan Hong and Lu Zhouxiang), Vol. 31, No 3; pp. 376-390
Merkel, U. (2014) ‘German Football Culture in the New Millennium: Ethnic Diversity, Flair and Youth on and off the Pitch’, in Soccer and Society, Vol. 15, No. 2; pp. 241-255
Merkel, U. (with Ok, Gwang and Park, Kyoungho) (2017) ‘Hosting International Events and Promoting South Korean Identity Discourses: Continuities and Discontinuities’, in The International Journal of the History of Sport,Vol. 33, No. 18; pp. 2307-2322
Merkel, U. (2014) ‘The Critical Social-Scientific Study of International Events’ and ‘Arts, Acrobatics and Athleticism in North Korea: Power Politics and Propaganda’; both in Merkel, U. (ed.) Power, Politics and International Events: Socio-cultural Analyses of Festivals and Spectacles. London: Routledge, pp. 3-30 and pp. 126-141; respectively
Merkel, U. (2015) ‘The Contestation of Identities and Communities in German Football’ and (with Gwang Ok) ‘Identity Discourses and narratives in North Korean Events, Festivals and Celebrations’; both in Merkel, U. (ed.) Identity Discourses and Communities in International Events, Festivals and Spectacles. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan; pp. 54-74 and 135-152; respectively
Merkel, U. (2016) ‘Sports Events as a Foreign Policy and Diplomatic Tool’, in Kelly, J., Bairner, A. and Lee, J. (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Sport and Politics. London: Routledge; pp. 28-38
Merkel, U. (2017) ‘Identity Politics, Nationalism and Sport in North Korea: the Symbolic Potency of Sport’, in Mangan, J.A., Qing, L. and Guthrie-Shimizu, S. (eds.) The London 2012 Olympics: Prism for East Asian Politics and Geopolitics. Beijing: CUC Publications
Merkel, U. (2014) 'North Korea used sport to show off - and reach out', in The Conversation, 7 March 2014
Merkel, U. (2018) ‘North and South Korea to unite at Winter Olympics: here are the hidden agendas behind this sports diplomacy’, in The Conversation, 22 January 2018
Merkel, U. (2018) 'North and South Korea extend hands of peace after symbolic opening ceremony', in The Conversation, 12 February 2018
Merkel, U. (2018) ‘Sports Diplomacy in Divided Korea’, in SECTORS - Newsletter of the American Sociological Association’s Sociology of Development Section, Spring, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 13-14
Merkel, U. (2019) ‘Sport as a nation branding tool in divided Korea: soccer, status and Soft Power’ in Soccer, Soft Power, Supremacy – The Chinese Dream, edited by J.A. Mangan and P. Horton; Bern: Peter Lang Publishers
TV: BBC, CNN, Canadian TV, RTL;
Radio: various stations in Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, USA and several others;
Print: The Guardian (UK), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), El Mundo (Spain), Neue ZüricherZeitung (Switzerland), The Nation (US), U.S. News, Bloomberg News (US), New York Times and various others
Bachelor, German Sport University Cologne
Bachelor, University of Cologne
Master, University of Leicester
PhD, University of Oldenburg
Guest speaker, German Sport University Cologne
Visiting Professor, Sookmyung Women's University
Visiting Professor, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina
Visiting Professor, Universidade de São Paulo
Guest Speaker, University of Potsdam
Guest speaker, Yale University
- H Social Sciences (General)
- Sociology of sport and leisure
- Sport and events management
- Sociology of Culture
- JA Political science (General)
- International Relations
- Foreign policy and diplomacy
- DS Asia
- Divided Korea
- North Korea
Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBN › Chapter
Research output: Working paper
North and South Korea to unite at Winter Olympics: here are the hidden agendas behind this sports diplomacyMerkel, U., 22 Jan 2018, The Conversation.
Research output: Working paper
Research output: Working paper
Hosting International Events and Promoting South Korean Identity Discourses: Continuities and DiscontinuitiesPark, K., Ok, G. & Merkel, U., 24 Aug 2017, In : International Journal of the History of Sport. 33, 18, p. 2307-2322 15 p.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article