Counter Olympics Network


The Landscape of Dissent: London 2012 and the transformation of the East End

Saturday 16 June, 2-5pm

Chisenhale Gallery, 64 Chisenhale Road, London E3 5QZ

A panel discussion bringing together researchers and practitioners to critically explore the ways in which the Olympics are transforming the economic, social, political and physical landscape of East London.

Chaired by Mike Raco, Professor of Urban and Regional Governance, The Bartlett, UCL, speakers include, Anna Minton, author of Ground Control: Fear and Happiness in the twenty-first-century city, Paul Watt, Senior Lecturer Urban Studies, Birkbeck, Alberto Duman, artist and lecturer, Middlesex University and Laura Oldfield Ford, artist and writer.

The event is organized by Isaac Marrero and Hilary Powell, co-editors of The Art of Dissent: Intervening in the Olympic Dream.

Brief description: a roundtable/panel discussion bringing together researchers and practitioners to critically explore the ways in which the London Olympics are transforming the economic, social, political and physical landscape of east London. Participants will chart different aspects of this changing landscape, from the public debt that underpins it to the intensive branding of urban space. Moving away from the anodyne visions of the future promoted by official bodies, the goal of the session is to redefine the “legacy” of the Games as a space of/for dissensus. The analysis of the already tangible effects of the Olympics in local communities will be complemented by the lines of flight plotted in radical dystopian narratives.

Format: 10 min intro, 15-20 min presentations, 30 min open discussion.


Anna Minton (journalist, writer): “London 2012, a legacy of debt and securitisation”. Based on the new chapter on the London Olympics in the second edition of her book Ground Control, she will discuss how the “regeneration” model based on cheap credit and ever increasing property values behind the Olympic-led transformation of east London has, particularly after the 2008 crash, created a legacy of massive debt and opportunities for privatization (such as the case of the Olympic Village). She will also discuss the implementation of “secure by design” principles in the Olympic Park and its legacy of securitisation and control.

Paul Watt (Senior Lecturer in Urban Studies, Birkbeck): “Remaking Stratford: the transformation of the east London landscape from the perspective of local homeless youth”. Dr Watt will present research he and Jackie Kennelly (Carleton University, Ottawa) have undertaken with young men and women living in temporary housing in the London borough of Newham. This interview and photography-based research explores how the regeneration of Stratford associated with Westfield and the Olympics has affected the young people’s daily lives and sense of place. Claims made about the positive legacy of the Games for local young people are critically evaluated in light of the experiences of exclusion and dispossession shared by this group.

Alberto Duman (artist, lecturer, Middlesex): “Branding as legacy: London 2012 and the AdiZones”. Duman will present a case study on these outdoor gyms, showing how sponsorship deals signed around the Olympics are reconfiguring bits of public space in London. The case illustrates the different levels at which the transformation of London’s landscape brought about by the Olympics ought to be thought, in particular the ways in which public bodies and private companies operate together in this process.

Laura Oldfield Ford (artist, writer): “London 2013: transmissions from a discarded future”. Laura will present her work as Savage Messiah, an exploration of the critical power of dystopian narrative for re-imagining the present. Her psycho-geographic drifts around a future east London articulate an alternative reading of its transformation, based also on the activation of repressed memories.

Chair: Mike Raco (Professor, UCL). Dr Raco will chair and introduce the session. He has done research on the displacement of local businesses by the Olympics and the contractual and governance structures of the Games.


Filed under: events, Olympic legacy, public space

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