Reading the 2010 World Cup: Fictions of Development in and around the Cape Town Stadium

By Fraser Hawkins.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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My paper analyzes the construction, from bidding competition to physical completion, of Cape Town Stadium (which was intended to host several important matches during the 2010 FIFA World Cup) through examining a variety if its prescriptive texts, including municipal development plans particular to this structure. Such a “reading” illuminates how the narratives of the building itself operate in relation to the larger narrative of the “mega-event” of the World Cup and how these narratives are further caught up within the processes of refashioning South African national identity. Essentially, I interrogate the intentionality of urban planning (the “imagined” urbanscape) through reading the material manifestation of the city itself (the stadium specifically) as a response to its own conceptualization. As such, Cape Town Stadium must be conceptualized in dialectical relation to its larger urban landscape. My contention is that although this stadium was built under the fiction of fostering social and racial equity, of encouraging urban development in poverty stricken areas through job and infrastructure creation, and of establishing public access to sports venues and facilities, Cape Town Stadium can be better read as an instrument of economically elite groups enthralled by the neoliberal narrative of Cape Town’s rise to the status of a “World Class City,” and is thus substantially distanced from the practical challenges of urban development facing South Africa today. I explore this idea by analyzing how it is that people are intended to flow through the space of the stadium itself during the transnational event of the FIFA World Cup, and how such a process creates a narrative of human movement that adheres to class divisions by controlling and restricting the flow of human bodies according to pre-established conceptions of appropriate spatial access.

Keywords: 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa, Cape Town, Urban Development, Urban Narrative, Human Movement

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.113-122. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 609.201KB).

Fraser Hawkins

PhD Candidate, English Literature, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

I am a 3rd year English PhD student at Queen’s University in Canada. My research explores how “official” government and general media narratives of post-apartheid South Africa have been variously rejected, reshaped, and reinterpreted by the work of South African writers since 1994 with a specific focus on Ivan Vladislavić. As such, I am particularly interested in urban narrative and how forms of urban development and legislation are in a dialectical exchange with more “literary” narrative forms.