CfP: Workshop: City of Tomorrow’: Urban Innovations and the Tokyo 2020 Games


The IN-EAST School of Advanced Studies of the University of Duisburg-Essen is inviting submissions for participants of a workshop on various perspectives dealing with the urban aspects of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games (see below) in Duisburg on the 27th of February. Travel costs for speakers from within Europe will be covered. Abstracts (max 400 words) together with a short (max 200 words) biographic note should be sent to by the 4th of February. For more information and inquiries, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

‘City of Tomorrow’: Urban Innovations and the Tokyo 2020 Games

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be the second Olympic Summer Games Japan. Already having become a widely discussed topic by in public and political discourse because of several large issues concerning the budget, the (location of) new facilities, and plagiarism concerning the Olympic logo, Tokyo is struggling to upkeep its image towards the outside. At the moment, the city is in the midst of its preparations, constructing ‘physical legacies’ to leave for future generations and in an effort to impress the rest of the world. In particular, the 2020 Games are characterized by an emphasis on the Paralympics (perhaps even more than the Olympics), and the promise of making the city ‘barrier free’, not only for those with a physical handicap, but also for the growing elderly population. Strongly focusing on showcasing technological prowess and excellence through urban innovations, the Games are advertised as ‘the most innovative in history’, and Tokyo as ‘city of tomorrow’. These claims, part of an antithetical message of transcending politics while clearly being used as marketing strategies, are remarkable in the case of the 2020 Games as the emphasis is on Tokyo as a city as innovative and livable. While in fact, Japan, and Tokyo as pars pro toto, is confronted with an ever-growing aging demographic (Coulmas, 2007), the troublesome aftermath of the 2011 triple disaster (Gill, Steger and Slater 2013), and an economy still struggling to overcome past crises. In how far the city will manage to re-brand and improve itself in the upcoming year and a half, is debatable. This workshop aims to promote discussion on the urban aspect of the 2020 Olympic Games, analyzing the spatial aspects of the preparations from various socio-cultural perspectives and situating the event not only in Japanese history, but also in relation to the current power dynamics of global cities.

Dr. des. Deirdre A.L. Sneep
Postdoctoral Researcher

IN-EAST School of Advanced Studies of the University of Duisburg-Essen
tel: +49 203 379 5189
Building SG / 176
Geibelstraße 41
47057 Duisburg