Date of Graduation

Fall 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies


International Studies

First Advisor

Stephen Zavestoski


This qualitative study focuses on issues of space created by the Olympic Games in London and the ways in which activists demonstrated against these issues by using space to their advantage. The Olympic Games is a phenomenon that scales local, national and international space in various ways, through its effects on global culture, identity, and economic processes. The games have a history of protest and activism, but the issues created by the games and struggles against them are not often discussed. My study aims to analyze the spatial effects of the Olympics on a local and global level through the stories of activism.

I discuss the ways in which the Olympic games affects space for a host city, through influencing local politics to unleash spatial practices that favor private development over public necessity. To counter spatial issues including eviction, the seizure of green space, and limitations to access of space, activists in turn use spatial politics to demonstrate against Olympic development. The Olympic Games as a global institution also effects larger spatial practices, such as their corporate sponsorship program, which activists also used spatial tactics to demonstrate against these processes.

I use geographic theory of space and sociological theory of Olympic processes to present a comprehensive analysis of the challenges that activists at the 2012 Olympic games were faced with. Data includes observations of demonstrations leading up to the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games and interview material from counter-Olympic activists. Through my analysis of the ways in which space creates problems and opportunities for activism, and the unique situation the Olympic Games present for spatial politics, I aim to provide examples of strengthened activism against spatial issues.