Andrea Pavoni, UoA 20, Law

South African celebration event

I am interested in the way urban space is controlled, how order emerges, how disorder is kept at bay. After a degree in media studies, I steered my academic career towards this, first looking at notions of surveillance, privacy and human rights both as an MA student at City University in London and research consultant at the ICHRP in Geneva. I then began to develop a more specific interest for, and more sophisticated notion of, space and how it’s shaped by law, security and marketing. Attending the UEFA Euro 2008 in Switzerland, I realised that during these ‘mega events’ spatial manipulation reaches its climax, and by observing them new spatial knowledge can be gained. However, my interest is not limited to such extemporaneous instances. Every day I encounter the complex overlapping of order and disorder of our cities. This makes me feel not only the relevance of my work, but also the continuity between what I do while reading and writing and what I experience in my everyday life: I aspire to keep my academic career tied to such continuity.

This thesis is about space, law and control: how their relationship unfolds in the contemporary city, and how normative ordering(s) emerge out of the urban ‘mess’, with particular attention to how this occurs in the extraordinary spatio-temporal context of mega events. The thesis is premised on the elaboration of an original conceptualisation of space, through the notions of atmosphere and rhythm, which I apply to the study of urban space. This understanding will allow for re-thinking the spatiality and materiality of the urban from a non-dichotomical, immanent perspective, thus providing a novel way to investigate the spatiolegal configurations and the form they assume in the present-day city. Through this approach, I wish to push forward the urban and legal geographical debate, exploring both the evolution of the spatiolegal into new, potentially oppressing logics of control, as well as the emancipatory potential that an original notion of spatial justice could offer. Since I conceive urban mega events as extremely relevant magnifying lenses to investigate urban processes, I employ the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as the empirical testing ground for my conceptualisations.

Case Study
Tuning the City: Johannesburg and the 2010 World Cup

The aim of the case study is to account for the way the spacing of the World Cup impacts on the spatiality of the city. This goal is pursued by focusing on discourses, practices and perceptions of safety and security, because of their key role in the production of urban order and the implementation of mega-events, as well as their heightened significance in the context of post-apartheid South Africa, specifically its most troubled metropolis, Johannesburg. In this way, I seek to test the theoretical hypotheses by approaching the urban spatiality beyond the familiar dichotomies into which it is usually forced, addressing instead the multiple agglomerations of human and nonhuman, as well as tangible and intangible elements which constitute it.

Group of students in classroom

Research degrees

We offer a diverse and highly regarded research degree programme reinforced by our Graduate School.