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A wonderful global city? Resisting urban regeneration in Olympic Rio

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Matt DaviesORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This article engages with debates about the role of ‘global cities’ in international relations and in the governance of global capitalism. Much of the discourse on global cities reproduces the hierarchical stratifications of the international system that divide the ‘global’ from the ‘local’ along a North-South or centre-periphery axis. We argue that while Rio de Janeiro’s ‘Porto Maravilha’ urban regeneration project apparently follows the global city model, its failure suggests the articulation of the international and the urban presents complexities that escape recent attempts to rethink world politics from the point of view of cities. In our analysis we consider how Rio’s mayor took up the notion of ‘Olympic City’, articulating narratives of a global urban condition as part of the strategies of integration for an emerging power into world politics and the neoliberal reconfiguration of capitalism. We examine the overlapping events, trajectories and lived realities that interfered with and undermined the coherence of that project, as well as the practices of resistance that produced other representational spaces. We conclude that despite the dominance of global discourses and conceptions regarding urban regeneration, it misses much of the creative politics taking place in ordinary sites in which international and urban meet.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Davies M, Nogueira J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of International Relations and Development

Year: 2023

Volume: 26

Pages: 530-556

Print publication date: 01/09/2023

Online publication date: 19/09/2023

Acceptance date: 27/07/2023

Date deposited: 03/10/2023

ISSN (print): 1408-6980

ISSN (electronic): 1581-1980

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.


DOI: 10.1057/s41268-023-00306-1

ePrints DOI: 10.57711/7zxv-aa52


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Funder referenceFunder name
Foundation for the Promotion of Research of Rio de Janeiro
National Council for Scientific and Technological Development of Brazil