Critical Event Studies


September 2016

Place-making and grassroots festivals


The reason for proposing this theme is that we (Louise & Jane) are preparing a proposal for a special edition on this very topic! Watch this space…

Family Fall Festival, Maryland. Image by David Robert Crews (Flickr)

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Are a festival’s origins a guide for future meaning and value?

There is often a tendency to feel concerned if a ‘traditional’ festival moves away from its origin but the reality is usually more complex than this. This discussion group examined some of the issues of the how the history of festivals can constrain change or, whether the original purpose is retained in its purest form.

Placeholder Image

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The thorny issue of volunteers?

Linda Wilks from Open University submitted the following provocation before the symposium:

Events/Festivals are…..often heavily reliant on volunteers to organise and steward them. But how much ‘fun’ is festival volunteering, is it really worth the effort for organisers, and how sustainable is a reliance on volunteers in the long run?”

This was picked up in the open space discussions and has been summarised by James Musgrave. I suspect that this issue will be something that we will return to again…

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Events and festivals as radical and liminal spaces

During the open space there was a balance between discussions which were conceptual and practical. This really reflected the diversity of the audience and also the diversity of the area of study. Events and festivals have always been characterised as being liminal phenomena, underlining the anthropological roots of the much of the study in the area. However, is this a restrictive way to think through festivals and events? David Jarman summarises the debates of the open space here…


Image by David Jackmonson (Flickr)

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Is event management superficial and self-congratulatory?

This is a topic that we have discussed since the publication of Rojek’s book ‘Event Power’. David McGillivray wrote a response to this book  and this theme was picked up in the open space. David Jarman offers the notes from the discussion….

Events management….why are fireworks are always the ‘go to’ image for course prospectus!!

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The role of experts

The next summary is on the theme of experts. During the panel discussion, Beatriz Garcia, explained that a ‘caravan of experts’ has been created around mega-events such as the Olympics but questioned whether this was a good thing. This topic was then picked up in the open space as summarised by David Jarman below…

Talk to the experts by Mai Le (Flickr)

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A question of methods…

James Musgrave from Manchester Metropolitan University has written up the notes from the discussion about methods….


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Events are interruptions…

As part of the ‘open space’ activity at the symposium various topics (designed by delegates) were explored. Each discussion was minuted and I will be posting the summaries of the discussions here. The first is from Andrew Smith from University of Westminster on the theme of interruptions…

Interruption by Adam Meek (Flickr)


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Summary of the panel discussions

David Jarman from Edinburgh Napier University has been quick off the draw with his summary of the panel debate and subsequent Q&A. David has blogged the notes on his own site as well which can be found here.


I will be posting the summaries of the open space discussions over the next few days so please send me any write ups you have from the day.

Massive thanks to everyone who contributed! Keep posted for more updates.

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