The Scam of Scams? Assessing the Legacies of the London Olympics

THE COLLOQUIUM FOR UNPOPULAR CULTURE presents:

ISAAC MARRERO-GUILLAMÓN and ETHEL BROOKS, THE SCAM OF SCAMS? – ASSESSING THE LEGACIES OF THE LONDON OLYMPICS

WHEN: Monday 19 November 2012, 12:30-1:50pm
WHERE: New York University, Room 471, 20 Cooper Square [East 5th and Bowery]
LUNCH WILL BE SERVED

Co-sponsored by Metropolitan Studies, NYU and the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis

The consensus is that the Olympics in London this summer was a triumph. “The Games have hit this country like an extra-strength dose of a mood-enhancing drug,” wrote David Segal in the New York Times. “This was an astoundingly seamless production, given the size of this city and the scale of the endeavour.” It was Jubilee Redux, hailed as the perfect antidote to the mass rioting on the capital’s street twelve months earlier. Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony delighted, Team GB excelled, Mayor Boris Johnson was installed as a serious contender for Conservative Party leadership.  Who would possibly raise any objections to such apparently uniform joy?….

ISAAC MARRERO-GUILLAMÓN (BIRKBECK), THE ART OF DISSENT
The Olympic Games provide the neo-liberal backdrop against which the relationship between cultural production and the political can be investigated. The Olympic mega-event is akin to Rancière’s ‘order of the police’: it regulates what is visible and invisible, sayable and unsayable, thinkable and unthinkable; it distributes individuals and groups in positions of ruler or ruled.  Drawing on examples centred around urban ‘regeneration’, displacements, effacement of local history, securitisation and privatisation of public space, MARRERO-GUILLAMÓN will also draw attention to eruptions of dissensus against this consensual space.

ETHEL BROOKS (RUTGERS), THE RIGHT TO THE CITY: ROMANI HISTORIES AND THE LONDON OLYMPICS
Do Gypsies have a right to the city? Where and how are lines drawn between the national self and its abject outside? BROOKS will examine the maintenance of Romani populations as constitutive outsiders to both urban space and citizenship, while exploring the visual practices that make up lost –or ghostly– Romani histories of the city. Through the prism of Romani cultural and material productivity and occupation of global city space, her project engages practices and visualities of racialization, citizenship and belonging, with a specific focus on the displacement of Roma, Gypsy, Traveller communities to make way for the 2012 London Olympics.  In this project, she takes the displacement as a starting point from which to look at the politics of belonging and the Romani history of the city.

ETHEL BROOKS is a Romani-American scholar and activist.  She is Associate Professor in the Departments of Women’s and Gender Studies and Sociology at Rutgers University and the Undergraduate Director of Women’s and Gender Studies. She is a Tate-TrAIN Transnational Fellow, and was the 2011-2012 US-UK Fulbright Distinguished Chair, at the University of the Arts London. Brooks is the author of Unraveling the Garment Industry: Transnational Organizing and Women’s Work, winner of the 2010 Outstanding Book from the Global Division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems. She is currently working on two book projects: Disrupting the Nation: Land Tenure, Productivity and the Possibilities of a Romani Post-Coloniality, and (Mis)Recognitions and (Un)Acknowledgements: Visualities, Productivities and the Contours of Romani Feminism, both of which focus on political economy, gender and racial formations, cultural production, the right to the city and the increasing violence against Roma worldwide.

ISAAC MARRERO-GUILLAMÓN studied Sociology in Granada and Berkeley and completed a PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Barcelona. He is currently a research fellow and associate lecturer at the School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London. His research focuses on processes of urban renewal and the configuration of spaces of dissent through activism and artistic practice. With Hilary Powell, he edited The Art of Dissent (2012), an essay collection that “preserves, for the eyes and ears of the future, the enduring vibration of a series of dissenting percepts and affects, landscapes and faces, visions and becomings … a collection of works that shake up the cartography of the sensible and the thinkable enacted by the Olympics.”

Queries: ss162@nyu.edu