On July 13th, Dr. Bryan Clift from the University of Bath’s Physical Cultural Studies Research Group and Dr. Thiago Allis from the Universidade de São Paulo organized an international colloquium titled “(Re)Making Cities: Urban Transformation and Sport Mega-Events in Brazil.” The colloquium showcased much recent work concerning the critical study of physical culture. Considering its timely topic with the upcoming 2016 Rio Olympics, Drs. Clift and Allis have been kind enough to write a short assessment of their colloquium and its significance to the critical study of urban transformation and sport mega-events.
The Colloquium’s program can be viewed here: Colloquium Booklet-2016
Dr. Clift can be reached via email at email@example.com and Dr. Allis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mega-events are no longer a novelty: Since the late 19th century, exhibitions have taken place in European and North-American emerging industrial cities, attracting hordes of visitors whilst projecting images of host cities to domestic and international audiences. However, over the last several decades such events – mainly of sporting and cultural varieties – have also become powerful communication strategies and opportunities to concentrate investment in urban redevelopment strategies with short and long term aims under the umbrella of a so-called ‘city marketing.’
As the FIFA World Cup and Summer Olympic Games have taken place in non-Western and emerging countries, new concerns have arisen: If tourism and urban improvement are benefits to be achieved, how do host cities cope with the antecedents of uneven socioeconomic development? Evictions, gentrification, inflation, corruption, etc., populate the list of side effects associated with planning the mega-event. Nevertheless, when Rio de Janeiro won the bid for the 2016 Olympic Games Brazil was emerging within a golden moment: The economy was booming, inflation came under control, the “new middle classes” began expanding, and then President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (popularly referred to as Lula) was respected as a leader worldwide. Yet, the perspectives and impacts of both events cannot be understood or assessed without closer, more critical examination of the host nation and its cities.