Society for Urban, National and Transnational/Global Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Mega-events are increasingly sites of transnational flows of capital that radically reconfigure notions of a market. The 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro ushered in, moreover, the dispossession of informal economies, habitats and other geographies of survival as residents grappled with preparation for global spectatorship. Drawing from ethnographic insights with street vendors, urban consumers and advertising agents, I explore private and public campaigns to demonstrate how globalization and worlding processes amplify the social inequality and racial capitalism writ into these uneven forms of accelerated development. As this paper will highlight, in the context of Brazil, mega-events required a “festivalization of politics.” These politics suspended municipal and state laws to accelerate urban development, and required charismatic leaders to negotiate forms of extra-state crafts. The campaigns launched under the frenetic call for cosmopolitanism in the lead up to these events revealed the ways in which notions of the public – both space and sphere – were reconfigured in complex ways under new democratic formations (and now fictions). A suspension of the “Right to the City” law usurped public space, and new markets instrumentalized bodies and affect in particular ways that I explore as “kineaesthetic.” Ultimately, the erasure of informal and local markets over the engineering of Olympic markets reveals a cosmopolitics of inclusion and exclusion, a process I argue is symptomatic of the neoliberal and extractive nature of mega-events.