Producing space and reproducing capital in London's Olympic Park: an ethnography of actually-existing abstract space

Waters, Jacken (2016) Producing space and reproducing capital in London's Olympic Park: an ethnography of actually-existing abstract space. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the relationship between the production of urban space
and the reproduction of capital. Taking the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as a
case study, I conducted ethnographic research during the London 2012
Olympics and the Park's first 'Legacy' year. My research proceeded from an
embodied walking practice (which prompted reflection on my transgender
presentation as a complicating factor), and also included interviews and archival
research. My analysis centres on Henri Lefebvre, situating his work on space
within a concern for the relationship between everyday life and the concrete
abstractions constituted therein. Taking this relationship as essential to the
reproduction of capital, I explore the production of the Olympic Park as an
actually-existing abstract space that mirrors the dual character of the value
form.

I open my account of this production with the Olympic festival, a total social
moment mobilised towards the realisation of value. I then examine each of
Lefebvre's three formants of abstract space in turn. I present the construction of
the Park as the materialisation of an abstractly conceived space designed to
incorporate a disordered post-industrial space into a new mode of
accumulation. I frame the inhabitation of the Park in its Legacy era as a
temporalisation of empty space, arguing that abstract time is co-constituted with
abstract space in internally contradictory everyday practice. And I address the
incorporation of the Park into a set of post-industrial, anti-urban, and leisureoriented
spaces that form a representational space reflective of the movement
of capital in its ascendant, financialised, form. I conclude with a discussion of
the Olympic Park as 'catalyst', securing the reproduction of capital by
encouraging further redevelopment, but also sharpening capital's contradictions
as an abstract space in conflict with its own concrete content, predicated on the
subsumption of the utopian potential of everyday life.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography > GF101 Settlements > GF125 Cities. Urban geography
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2016 10:19
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2016 10:19
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/65087

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