Moving from the proliferation of urban spectacles, this workshop enquires into the festivalisation of cities and explores the cultural and aesthetic content of the new spectacle in a globalising world.
In the last two decades, large and small, urban spectacles have become the identifying features of the contemporary metropolitan order, providing the city with an aura of cultural grandeur and finesse. Around the globe today, even cities with no carnival "tradition" proudly stage carnivals and curate carnivalesque of all kinds—be them street festivals, new year concerts, international fairs, or sports gatherings—facilitating formations of community and solidarity, and participation in local, national and transnational social spaces. Focusing on the progressive expansion of urban spectacles and the reorganization of metropolitan social spaces, this workshop pursues three goals: First, we aim to explore divergences and convergences in the development and aesthetic production of the new public spectacle, and connected social practices. Second, we will map out the circulation of styles, organizational structures, discourses, as well as actors, between seemingly far away and disconnected spectacles in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Third, moving from comparative case studies, we will seek to lay out theoretical building blocks for understanding the new spectacles of diversity and identity, new practices of public participation and regulation, and the new economy and spatial distribution of urban life. How does the expansion of urban spectacle change our understanding and experience of public space? To which extent does the new spectacle depart from being national in content and local in form? What are the markers of diasporic or cosmopolitan projections in the new spectacle? What are the cultural properties and confines of the public displays of identity and diversity? What is the content and limits of the sayable, creative, and defiant in the new spectacle? Which signs, artifacts, and forms constitute its expressive repertoire? These and similar questions will guide us in discerning the social, cultural, and aesthetic content of urban spectacles in an expanding Europe and globalizing world.