The Urban Unbound: London’s Politics and the 2012 Olympic Games


Global events such as London’s 2012 Olympic Games raise questions about the ways in which embedded political arrangements take their shape from relationships that stretch across and beyond urban boundaries. In this article, the urban politics that we wish to capture is not one that is merely located in the city, but rather one that has to constantly take into account the mediated demands folded (as it were) into the urban arena. In the first part of the article, the corporate politics of an Olympic‐related urban regeneration are outlined and then considered, first as a staged setting for interaction, a kind of placeless political engagement, and then as a more embedded spatial politics that takes into account the leverage of networked groups acting within and beyond the city. Following that, we explore the politics of regeneration when campaign groups and alternative coalitions of interest raise their own political demands by drawing on references outside of their immediate urban area and attempt to steer political dialogue in ways that extend the reach of urban politics. The urban politics at stake in this context, we argue, appears to work more through topology than a series of mapped connections; through actors registering their presence in ways that often dissolve the tension between inside and outside rather than define it in terms of separate political spaces.