Olympic City Critiques reading group
Birkbeck's Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies are setting up a reading group open to students, academics, activists and other individuals interested in exploring the social, economic and political processes of these spectacular urban mega-events from critical perspectives.
- Weds 15th June 'Space and Place' 12-2 pm in Room 253 Malet Street, Birkbeck (Main Building).
1. Reconstructing My Locality for the Olympics - Martin Slavin. Martin will show a collection of 100+ photographs taken over the last six years around the Olympic Games site in the Lower Lea Valley. The pictures are in three groups, 1. A Place to Start, 2. Demolition and 3. Reconstruction. Martin will give a brief contextual information for the pictures where necessary. The presentation will last about 45 minutes.
2. 'Mauerpark Berlin' - Fran Webernewth Mauerpark [‘Wall Park’] lies on the former ‘no man’s land’ which separated Berlin for 27 years. Following the fall of The Berlin Wall in 1989, this borderland area was seen as a space where East and West Berlin could grow together. This short documentary film asks individuals why the park is such an important urban space. The film explores why building development along the periphery of the park would be detrimental to social relations in the surrounding neighbourhoods.
- 29th June 'Barcelona Olympics' (12-2 pm) led by Isaac Marrero and Mari Paz Balibrea and will be held in Room 541 Malet Street.
- Wednesday 30 March 2011. Discussion of 'Going for Gold: Globalizing the Olympics, Localizing the Games', J.R. Short, published as chapter 8 in JR Short (2004) Global Metropolitan: Globalizing Cities in a Capitalist World, London: Routledge, 86-108.
- Wednesday 27 April 12-2pm - Room 253, Birkbeck, Malet Street. Discussion of 'The Anti-Olympics' by Jules Boykoff (New Left Review, No. 67, Jan-Feb. 2011)
- Wednesday 11th May - Room 203, Clore Management Building, Birkbeck
- Monday 23rd May - Room G02, Clore Management Building, Birkbeck
The Olympic Games literally and symbolically 'take place' in major cities. They represent the mega-event par excellence which not only physically transforms areas of cities beyond recognition but also shifts the urban place imaginary. City growth coalitions eagerly bid against other cities to win this world-class spectacle primarily for the boost it is supposed to impart to the local politics of urban regeneration.
Researchers and activists over the last thirty years have highlighted how such grandiose visions and accelerated development projects produce spectacular but also highly inequitable outcomes for urban citizens. As with other neo-liberal regeneration programmes, the vital question of 'who really benefits?' is highly pertinent. However, many of the texts which researchers have produced are not well known or well understood outside the various academic specialisms within which they circulate.
Dr Paul Watt
Senior Lecturer in Urban Studies
Department of Geography, Environment & Development Studies
Birkbeck, University of London
London WC1E 7HX
Tel: 020 3073 8371
Mob: 07788 415096
Email: Dr.Paul Watt
Martin is a member of the East End based group Games Monitor, a network of people raising awareness about issues within the London Olympic development processes.
Email: email@example.com .