The invisible domestic forgotten: Everyday geopolitics through the men’s Football World Cup in Russia

Authors: Sven Wolfe*, University of Zurich
Topics: Russia, Political Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: Urban geopolitics, micropolitics, urban development, mega-events, Russia
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 43
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Beyond sport, mega-events like the Olympics and the World Cup have been understood as lenses through which to analyze issues as diverse as modernity and neoliberalized leisure (Horne and Whannel 2016; Roche 2002), urban development (Müller and Gaffney 2018), protest and globalization (Dart and Wagg 2016), and geopolitics (Koch 2017). Within geopolitical analysis, one traditional axis on which mega-event research turns is the idea of hosting as a strategy of soft power (Grix 2014). This view, however, is almost always framed through foreign policy, on global scales. Yet mega-events are hosted not by nations but in cities, and the impacts of these geopolitical soft power strategies on the residents of host cities remains understudied and relatively invisible.

Taking the 2018 Men’s Football World Cup in Russia as an entry point, this paper highlights the ways in which these global events are predicated on an everyday geopolitics. Inspired by the theoretical vocabulary found in urban geopolitics, I endeavor to trace the “telescoping connections between transnational geopolitical transformations and the very local acts of violence against urban sites” (Graham 2004, 191). From this standpoint, I explore the micropolitics (Guattari 2009) of mega-event-driven urban development projects during the preparations for the World Cup in several Russian host cities: Volgograd, Ekaterinburg, and Sochi.

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