Scholarly-gender orders: mega-events as lightning rods in global cultural contexts

Posted by Dr. Rodanthi Tzanelli on 2014/09/27

For almost a decade now, I have been following the development of literature on mega-events, with extra focus on the Olympic Games (and more recently, the World Cup). My main observation has hardly changed over the years: within the critical tradition of the social sciences, scholarly discourse highlights the merits and problems mega-events generate in urban milieux (e.g. tourist and otherwise beneficial policies for host cities, protests for human rights violations, housing improvement or destruction of whole localities). Within a ‘less critical’ (a-la Frankfurt School) tradition, there is emphasis on the production of multiple mobilities (professional migrations, consumer products, the expansion of entertainment industries and technological apparatuses). One might attribute either thesis to paradigmatic or disciplinary preference, but I do not think that this is enough. In any case, the problem with the clash between these two discourses (for, this is what they are), has consequences for the quality of academic production. It is not that either scholarly analysis is ‘bad’, but that both are clearly politically dichotomised, making for younger generations in academia difficult to acquire an all-around appreciation of the mega-event. Of course, this bifurcated view is politically in nature – for, in spite of the progressive neo-liberalisation of tertiary education, academia is still a space accommodating the need to pursue vocational, rather than mere professional orientation.



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