Institute of Geography and Sustainability of the University of Lausanne
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"Fanatic Energy in the Wrong Places": Potemkin Neoliberalism and Domestic Soft Power in the 2018 Men’s Football World Cup in Russia

Research fields Urban matters
Keywords City
Urban renewal
Urban project
Actor network theory
Urban Inequalities
Transport infrastructure
Duration Juin 2016 - July 2019
Researchers Müller Martin (Supervision) [web] [email]
Wolfe Sven Daniel (Doctoral student) [web] [email]

Mega-events like the World Cup have a documented history of profound effects on the cities that host them. Proponents of mega-events, whether the event owners, the hosting coalitions, associated business or government elites, the media, or in the academy, tend to emphasize that hosting benefits the city through urban re/development, economic growth, and image improvements. At the same time, other groups base their opposition on well-documented cases of white elephant infrastructure, a lack of public involvement, misuse of public funds, gentrification, and destruction of the natural environment. In contrast to these approaches, this project focuses on the multiple realities enacted simultaneously in mega-event host cities. It proposes that we should not look at mega-event hosting from an either-or viewpoint, and instead suggests that we replace this binary with multiplicities. This move brings to light heretofore under-examined aspects of the 2018 World Cup urban development process in Russia, focusing specifically on the preparations in the host cities of Volgograd and Ekaterinburg. In so doing, this project demonstrates the ambiguities inherent in hosting mega-events, expands policy mobilities beyond a linear conceptualization of mobilization/mutation, and grounds multiplicities thinking in the sociomaterial landscape of the city.

This project is part of the Swiss National Science Foundation project "Mega-events as urban interventions", under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Martin Müller.

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