Vitaly Kazakov (Manchester)
Superpower Ambitions and Sports in the 21st Century: The Geopolitical Aims, Informational Means, and Popular Reception of Russia's Sporting Mega-Events
Supervisor: Prof Stephen Hutchings; Co-Supervisor: Prof Vera Tolz
My study will analyze the Russian government's experience with creating geopolitical imagery while bidding for and hosting sporting mega-events in the 21st century, and assess the role of these events and their mass-media interpretation in the Kremlin's pursuit of a superpower status. Relying on the interdisciplinary theoretical field of critical geopolitics and using the ethnographic content analysis method, this study will specifically examine (1) discursive and visual imagery created by state officials and event organizers, (2) event coverage and interpretation in select agenda-setting mass-media outlets both inside and outside Russia, and (3) the reactions of these media's audiences. This analytically three-fold and empirically cross-cultural research project will paint a detailed picture of the strategies, interpretations, and types of reception of geopolitical imagination in the context of the Kremlin's superpower ambitions and its recent mega-events. It will bridge gaps in theory within and between disciplines of Russian historical, political, and cultural studies, geopolitics, mass-media, nation branding, and soft power. This study will also help to provide important political, historic, and cultural insights, both retrospective and forward-looking, into the recent deterioration of relations between Russia and the West, and the Kremlin’s conscious engagement in an information war against its internal and external opponents.