Cities as stages for mega-events

maanantai 11.5.2015, 15:30 – 17:00

Chairs: Timo Vilén & Sami Kolamo, University of Tampere

In recent years, mega-events – large scale global spectacles – have become the subject of a lively public and scholarly debate. The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, for example, have drawn attention to issues related to the role of cities in staging events, the social ramifications of large international spectacles and the ways in which urban space is controlled through these events.

This interdisciplinary session aims at bringing together scholars interested in cities as stages for mega-events from the 19th to 21st centuries. The papers can address this theme e.g. in the context of Olympics, World Fairs as well as smaller sports and cultural events. We invite contributions from a variety of perspectives including, but not restricted to, those of history, media studies, sociology, cultural studies and economics.

In particular, we encourage papers that reflect on the agency of cities, their spatiality and the use of space within cities. The papers can further address e.g. the following questions: What is the role of city administrators and that of local residents in staging mega-events? What is the impact of events on urban space? Who decides how urban space is used? What kind of discourse and dialogue do these events produce between national decision-makers, international organizations, local activists and the global public? What is the role of media in staging events and how does it manifest itself in urban space? What is the impact of events on specific city identities and brands? How does the media, with its rapid changes and its increasing focus on electronic media, unfold in mega-events?

The session will take place in English.


Spectacle for the Masses: Russian Imperial Festivities in Helsingfors (Helsinki), 1812-1885.
Darin Stephanov, University of Jyväskylä

Hosting Spectacles. Mega-events in Russia
Pia Koivunen, University of Tampere

An Exhibition that never took place. The Stockholm Art and Industrial Exhibition of 1897 and the unfulfilled hopes for a second Finnish industrial exhibition
Timo Vilén, University of Tampere