The more I explore stadiums. Ch. Gaffney

Christopher Gaffney est géographe, enseignant-chercheur et journaliste d’investigation américain. Il a été professeur invité à l’Ecole Supérieure d’Architecture et d’Urbanisme de l’Université Fédérale Fluminense de Rio à Niterói (Brésil) ou plus récemment à l’EPF de Zurich (Suisse). Les stades sont son terrain d’étude favori depuis 2004. Il est l’auteur du remarquable Temples of the Earthbound Gods (University of Texas Press, 2008, non traduit) dans lequel il s’intéresse à l’histoire et la géographie culturelle des stades de Rio de Janeiro et Buenos Aires comme prisme pour comprendre l’évolution des paysages urbains depuis la fin du XIXe siècle.

The more I explore stadiums, the larger they became and the more I found. Unfortunately, I can no longer experience them unconsciously, and after reading this book neither will you. A stadium, even a very small one, is an incredibly complex  ”thing” – nearly impossible to describe its entirety, each one requiring a deep reading of the cultural landscape”. […]

The complexities of the stadium extend well beyond geographic inquiry into the realms of imagination, city planning, governance and taxation, architecture, environmental studies, transportation infrastructure, sewage, electricity, horticulture, security and surveillance, ticketing, marketing, player migration patterns, international trade agreements, citizens’ rights groups, eminent domain law, global capital, local, regional, national and cultural identities, gender performance, geopolitical conflicts, and global mega-events, to name more than a few. (…)

Obviously, stadiums are built so that we can perform and patronize sport, but the ways in which stadiums are constructed, managed, experienced, and understood are as different as the events they host. The meanings and histories they contain, represent, and produce are inseparable from the cultures in which they exist. As fundamental elements of the urban cultural landscape, stadiums impart ideological messages wrapped in discursive frameworks that are in turn informed by multiscalar geographic processes. Which is to say that the more we look at and think about stadiums, the more complex they become. By using stadiums as lenses to observe cultures, we survey historical, economic, political, sociocultural, technological, and globalizing processes as they are expressed on the local level.

Christopher GAFFNEY, Temples of the Earthbound Gods. Stadiums in the Cultural Landscapes of Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, preface pp. iv-xv.

Lire aussi l’interview de Ch. Gaffney dans la revue Urbanisme “Les stades du Mondial seront des éléphants blancs” dans “Publications & communications”.

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