On Events, October 12, 2011

WIDEN: On Events

4:00–6:00 p.m., Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Grad Room, 66 Harbord St., Toronto
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All are welcome. No advance registration is required.


“We Have the Ability to Create the Headlines”: Made-for-TV Planning and the Politics of Urban Knowledge Creation
David Roberts (Geography)

In this paper, I argue that the World Cup needs to be understood as having social impacts that extend well beyond the sports event and tournament infrastructure. Thinking through the World Cup in South Africa as a “television event” allows us to understand how a particular geographic imagination of host cities is mass produced by and through international media covering the event. This means that we must pay attention to the ways that the World Cup is also about the politics of representation, particularly media representation given the World Cup’s status as a mega-media event. Through an analysis of media strategies for the 2010 South African world cup, this paper explores the politics of urban knowledge production and introduces the concept made-for-TV planning. Made-for-TV planning, as I define it, is the attempt of urban planners to capitalize on the unique opportunities and challenges that anticipated television media coverage of a city (such as that which accompanies a mega-event) to project a certain image of a city to television audiences around the world. In the process, there is a blurring of lines between city boosterism and news coverage. Made-for-TV planning approaches require broadening the typical understanding of the planner in this unique context—it also requires an expansion of planning theory to include greater attention to media studies and representational theories. These relationships remain largely unexplored and under-theorized. What follows is a coarse theorization of made-for-TV planning as a way of laying the groundwork for further studies that should include, among other things, robust content analysis of the ways in which television news organizations, in partnership with urban planners, work to broadcast certain image production narratives.

Events Advancing Knowledge: Scientific Inquiry without the Scientific Method
Ben Filewod (Forestry)

In this short presentation, I will introduce some key approaches to scientific analysis, and explain how and why they can fail to work. The ability of event-driven (rather than experimental) research will be explored as an alternative way of knowing. Theoretical concepts will be discussed with specific reference to my own original research on some aspects of climate change impacts on temperate forests.

Event-ness at 9/11: The Implications of Marking a Date for U.S. Grief
Amanda Watson (Women’s Studies, University of Ottawa)

Two weeks after U.S. President Obama declared Osama bin Laden killed by U.S. personnel, the New Yorker magazine marked the historical event with the banner on its May 16 issue reading, “After Bin Laden.” U.S. American media coverage explicating the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s death adopted similarly temporal titles: the “Post-Bin Laden World” (New York Times, May 2, 2011), a “Post-Bin Laden Cash Crunch” (Time magazine, May 3, 2011), and, overtly demarcating a new historical period, the “Post-Bin Laden Era” (The Economist, May 5, 2011). In American media, Osama bin Laden’s death became the bookend of a new historical period in American culture. Returning to the past 10 years, widely known as the “post-9/11 era,” this mixed media art project (entitled “September 10th”) and corresponding paper address the concept of “event-ness” as it occurs in hindsight descriptions and depictions of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The art work critically represents “9/11” as mapped in non-metric space and nonlinear time, juxtaposing the modernist notion of temporality as even and homogeneous with post-colonial temporal impressions that shift and multiply with cross-cultural reception. Suggesting that dividing time periods by events, as is commonplace in academia and politics, is a way of recolonizing history, this piece elucidates the gross misrepresentation of actors and processes surrounding the events of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden’s recent death. Relying on Jasbir Puar’s notion of “temporal qualifications,” and Puar’s and Sherene Razack’s use of “monstrosity,” this piece asks how “event-ness” facilitates the construction of fearful enemy, and suggests its future unpacking.

Directions: To get to Grad Room, enter through the coffee shop on the northeast corner of Spadina and Harbord, and then go down the stairs at the back. An elevator to the room is accessible through the main entrance of Graduate House residence (60 Harbord St.). Additional time may be needed to use the elevator; please contact Grad Room at 416-946-7666 or gradroom@utoronto.ca for information.

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