Mega-events and regional identities : the 2010 Asian Games language controversy

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-636
Journal / PublicationPolicy and Politics
Issue number4
Online published21 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020



This article argues that mega-events can become important sites for the contestation of a variety of justice claims, including recognition for regional identities. The existing literature explores the potential of mega-events to achieve redistribution but their impact on identity claims is underresearched. Our analysis of the Cantonese language controversy in the run-up to the Guangzhou 2010 Asian Games fills this gap by employing a discourse-historical approach. It demonstrates that a range of discursive strategies relating to the Cantonese language played a crucial role in the articulation of a Cantonese regional identity and were, in turn, countered through discursive strategies employed by local government, which argued that Cantonese and Chinese identities are not mutually exclusive. We conclude that scholars need to pay more attention to mega-events that are staged in non-Western countries outside core cities, as well as to the role that they can play in attempts to promote the recognition of regional identities.

Research Area(s)

  • mega-events, regional identity, language, social justice, regional recognition, Asian Games, Guangzhou, China

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Research Unit(s) information for this publication is provided by the author(s) concerned.

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