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A Festive Surveillance: Mega-Events in Rio de Janeiro


A privileged center for the sign, the media, and the code, the city is the place par excellence for visual consumption, providing a sense of simultaneity and global interconnectedness. This is particularly clear in times of mega-events (The World Soccer Cup, The Olympic Games, The World Youth Day), when host cities receive an extraordinary influx of foreign visitors and enter in a hyper-mediated trance with the spotlights of all the TV cameras of the world. In preparation for the 2014 and 2016 mega-events, the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has experienced a permanent shock of agenda, characterized by important, accelerated, urban renewal projects accompanied by population removal and slums pacification. With the official assertion of Rio as a global city for sports and other mega-events comes a hegemonic will to blend festive public space with advertising. Based on the works of Sharon Zukin and David Harvey on visual consumption and social control, I question the production of such model of the “festive” city. In Rio de Janeiro, non-stop partying provides a convenient escape from conflict, protest, and dissent.


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