International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities
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International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities

Edited by Ben Derudder, Michael Hoyler, Peter J. Taylor and Frank Witlox

This Handbook offers an unrivalled overview of current research into how globalization is affecting the external relations and internal structures of major cities in the world.
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Chapter 17: Mega-events: Urban Spectaculars and Globalization

John Rennie Short


John Rennie Short Globalization is constructed and maintained in many ways. One of the most important is through the experience of mega-events hosted in particular cities. The circulation of these events in different cities across the world creates and tightens global urban networks. These spectaculars connect cities and societies in global discourses and shared practices. The host cities also have opportunities for achieving or reaffirming world city status, acting as platforms for globalizing trends and laboratories for future urban forms. The host cities are hubs and exchanges in global flows and networks, the transmission points in the production of a global society (Roche, 2006). In this chapter I will consider two of the most important mega-events of the modern period: the urban spectaculars of World Fairs and the Olympic Games. World Fairs were a vital element in the globalization of modernity in the period from 1850 to around 1940. The Olympic Games, in contrast, were an important staging of the contemporary wave of globalization especially from around 1960 to the present day. Let us consider each in turn. WORLD FAIRS: THE BEGINNING 1 May 1851 is an important date in the history of the relationship between globalization and cities. On that day the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations (hereafter Great Exhibition) opened in London in Hyde Park. The main building was the Crystal Palace designed by Joseph Paxton. In an innovative design, huge sheets of glass were shaped around an elegantly thin framework of cast...

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