Antipode on the Commonwealth Games 2014

It’s Glasgow’s day in the sun, with the Commonwealth Games starting soon. While the sunshine currently bathing the city might be remarkable (the sun never shines in the UK in the summer!) the light cast by Antipode authors on it is less so: they’ve been relentlessly anatomising developments for years. Here are a few papers to get you started. On your mark, get set, go

In ‘Class, Citizenship and Regeneration: Glasgow and the Commonwealth Games 2014‘ Kirsteen Paton, Gerry Mooney and Kim McKee explore some of the ways in which the Games have thus far been used as a way of “deconstructing and reconstructing in more ‘acceptable’ ways working-class lives in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the city” (p.1472): “The 2014 CWGs, and related policies, have as their core objective the ‘normalisation’ of the East End. ‘Normalisation’ here means ‘mainstream’ economic activity/participation against a culture of ‘welfarism’ and illicit forms of work; it also means legitimated forms of consumption – against the flawed consumption of a welfare-dependent population that is viewed as not only over-reliant on social housing, but on public services more generally” (p.1485). But do regeneration efforts deliver? What will the ‘legacy’ of the Games be? Who will reap the benefits?

Eliot Tretter’s ‘The Cultures of Capitalism: Glasgow and the Monopoly of Culture‘ looks at property development in Glasgow and its self-transformation from industrial city to ‘European City of Culture’ throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Tretter unpacks the enclosure of the city’s considerable cultural commons, and the contradictions of, and challenges to, this process, putting some of David Harvey’s thinking on rent, monopoly and commodification to work.

In ‘From Urban Entrepreneurialism to a “Revanchist City”? On the Spatial Injustices of Glasgow’s Renaissance‘ Gordon MacLeod examines the rise of the punitive or “revanchist” city as a way of sustaining/disciplining urban entrepreneurialism, that is, a way of responding to its deleterious consequences. The “control over and purification of urban space” (p.2) in Glasgow is analysed, and as well as public service cuts, new ‘interdictory architectures’, ‘vengeful’ popular discourses about the homeless and other groups, and so on, MacLeod reveals the ongoing role of the city’s “inherited institutional landscape” (p.616), the continuation of a more supportive tradition despite (and, perhaps, because of) its ‘renaissance’.

Nick Fyfe’s ‘Making Space for “Neo-communitarianism”? The Third Sector, State and Civil Society in the UK‘ looks at 1990s Glasgow as an “institutional laboratory” in which the state conducted policy experiments designed to address the “social costs and political repercussions” of neoliberalism (p.537). The Conservatives have the ‘Big Society now, and Labour had neo-communitarianism then, turning to the third sector (or, rather, a restructured third sector) to take on welfare responsibilities.

In ‘Class, Agency and Resistance in the Old Industrial City Andrew Cumbers, Gesa Helms and Kate Swanson think through the meaning and value of individuals’ and communities’ autonomy and agency in old industrial cities like Glasgow. Amidst urban ‘regeneration’ people cope with change (and respond to it creatively), they defend against ‘renewal’ (and struggle for alternatives): “agency and resistance of the more everyday sort continue even in the most coercive and regressive economic environments…[and] past processes of activism and class consciousness remain as latent reserves that can be drawn upon for present and future collective struggles” (p.68).