Reimaging Brazilian cities: Urban images and cultural narratives in the wake of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

The British Academy has allocated a Newton Fund grant for a year-long project collaboration between Dr Beatriz Garcia and a team of researchers at the University of Sao Paulo, led by Professor Paulo Nassar. The project assesses the impact of mediated cultural representations on the “brand” of Brazil and its two main cities — Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo — in the wake of the 2016 Olympic Games.

The purpose of the project is to reveal whether the huge investments of both money and human resources in organising the Games have had some durable impact on the image of the host city and country — and if so, what this impact is. Specifically, we will analyse the impact of the 2016 Olympic Games on perceptions of Brazil and its two leading urban centres from a cultural and creative industries perspective.

Methodologically, the project will focus on the analysis of official written and visual materials, using the following techniques and documentary sources:

  • Culture and communications policy analysis of the key strategic frameworks and guidelines for event marketing and cultural programming, as established by the International Olympic Committee and interpreted/adapted by the local organising committee (OCOG) in Rio de Janeiro;
  • Brand analysis, based on the documentary assessment of official marketing and promotional materials created by the OCOG to project Rio de Janeiro and Brazil as Olympic hosts;
  • Content analysis of Brazil, Rio and Sao Paulo references (brand images), as represented within national and international Olympic sponsors’ campaigns in the lead up to and during the Games fortnight;
  • Media content analysis of references the cultural identity and cultural aspirations of Rio, Sao Paulo and Brazil in the context of the 2016 Games, with a focus on a selection of Brazilian press and UK press.

The project will create an opportunity for long-term collaboration between the UK’s leading researcher on mega-event cultural impacts and Olympic cultural policy-making, and a team of Brazil’s leading international public relations and narratives researchers. The project will culminate in a conference, to be hosted in Rio a year after the 2016 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. The research will also involve regular publication of discussion papers, which will be made available here on the ICC website.

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