The Architecture of Competitive Hospitality: Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in the Design of Summer Olympic Venues, 1936-2012
Peoples, William Jason
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CitationPeoples, William Jason. 2019. The Architecture of Competitive Hospitality: Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in the Design of Summer Olympic Venues, 1936-2012. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractThis study undertakes a comparative analysis of Olympic architecture in order to yield a greater understanding of the conflict between nationalism and cosmopolitanism - a conflict that has long occupied a central place in practical and theoretical debates within the field of international relations (IR). The thesis begins by offering a review of the relevant literature in the fields of IR theory, Olympic Studies, and Architectural and Visual Studies. After producing a political context narrative for each of the Summer Games held between 1936 and 2012, the author conducts a formal analysis of key venues for each of the Games. The results of the analysis are summarized in architectural diagrams and reconciled with the respective political narratives in order to test four hypotheses: 1) That nationalist formal elements and motifs will be more readily apparent in the architecture of Olympic venues in which the host country seeks primarily political rather than economic benefit. 2) That nationalist formal elements and motifs will be more readily apparent in the architecture of Olympic venues built in countries with more authoritarian forms of government. 3) That nationalist formal elements, architectural motifs, and patterns of urban planning will reinforce the dominant narrative propagated by host-country organizers, and 4) That countries wishing to advance national interests have increasingly relied on cosmopolitan rhetoric, a shift that will be apparent in architectural form. In the end, the paper concludes that all four of the hypotheses may be too simple adequately to describe the complexity of the observed phenomena. While the study finds support for the idea of architecture as a useful tool of legitimation, it also calls into question the adequacy of nationalist visual content to achieve desired goals. It seems that embracing the mantle of cosmopolitanism has increasingly become the path of choice for host countries wishing to advance national interest by way of visual rhetoric; the thesis calls for more research to interrogate connections between architectural theory and aesthetic diplomacy.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365378