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The Spectacular Construction of an Olympic Metropolis - Anne-Marie Broudehoux

The Spectacular Construction of an Olympic Metropolis
Anne-Marie Broudehoux
University of Quebec, Montreal

ABSTRACT: This article presents a critical review of Beijing’s Olympic redevelopment, and of the social, economic, and political impacts of hosting mega events as a means of urban image construction. Through an analysis of Olympic projects, city marketing initiatives, and their impact on the city’s material and cultural landscape, this article postulates that Beijing’s spatial restructuring and image construction program played an important role in exacerbating the profound inequalities that have come to epitomize China’s transition to capitalism within an autocratic political system. Acting as a developmental engine legitimating large-scale urban transformations, the Olympics have helped concentrate economic and political power in the hands of a coalition of government leaders and private investors and allowed their interests to dominate the planning agenda. Beijing’s spectacular Olympic preparations have in many ways acted as a propaganda tool and an instrument of pacification to divert popular attention from the shortcomings of China’s rapid economic transformation, accompanied by rampant land speculation, corruption, and uneven development.


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Broudehoux-Spectacular-Beijing.pdf143.89 KB

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