Liquid London: Sporting spectacle, britishness and ban-optic surveillance

Andrew Manley, Michael Silk

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Under the rubrics of recent ‘terror’ attacks—especially 9/11 and 7/7—the discourses of security and surveillance, and the subsequent heightened awareness of risk and insecurity, have been framed within an increasingly global context. Through an appropriation of the Ban-opticon dispositif (Bigo 2006, 2011), this article analyses the changing urban transformations of civic space and mediated messages perpetuated within, and through, the London 2012 Olympic Games. In so doing, we deconstruct London 2012 through a post-panoptic lens, identifying how processes of social control are reiterated and (re)configured through the establishment of a clearly delineated “other”, that which is deemed ‘unwelcome’ and situated as posing a threat to the safety of the normalised, and accepted, majority. Thus, through a reading of the cultural politics of class, race and gender that are embedded within sporting spectacle, we argue that London 2012 capitalised on the institutionalised culture of fear to convey, and thus contain, an accepted vision of multiculturalism, legitimising surveillance practices and security measures that became ingrained within the urban landscape and social fabric of the nation’s capital. In so doing, we point towards a troubling yet all too tangible true London Olympic legacy, one that identifies and subjects specific yet significant ‘others’ to forms of social control and corporeal governance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-376
JournalSurveillance and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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