On the Wrong Side of the Track? East London and the Post Olympics


On The Wrong Side of the TrackOn the Wrong Side of the Track draws on insights from the human sciences to challenge the arguments of Olympophiles for whom the Games can do no wrong as well as Olympophobes for whom they can do no right, using 2012 as a lens through which to examine underlying trends in contemporary culture.

What did the 2012 Olympics tell us about who we are, who we were, and who we want to be?

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Groundbreakers Guide

As you walk around Queen Elizabeth OlympicPark you will notice many new buildings, new housing, schools, workplaces, offices and hotels, even a new university campus and cultural quarter, as the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic legacy materialises on the ground. It is easy then to think that there was nothing much here before2012, and indeed much of the official media coverage portrayed the site as a semi-derelict wasteland awaiting regeneration.… Read the rest

On the Wrong Side of the Track Gallery

Below are images from the book On the Wrong Side of the Track which is described here.   Click on the image to advance.… Read the rest

Glossary of Concepts

This glossary contains short essays on 12 of the key concepts used in ‘On the Wrong side of the Track?’  contextualising them in relation to current debates in the human sciences.

View the full document here:  Glossary of ConceptsRead the rest


‘From its delirious counter-factual opening, through a cavalcade of arguing and asserting voices, a necessary, intelligent, and balanced response to a moment of local and national hallucination is achieved. If the book works, the Olympic madness can serve a useful purpose: in making us look harder at ourselves and the place where we have chosen to live.   Iain Sinclair


Phil Cohen’s cantankerous, meticulous, jam-packed investigation of the coming of the 2012 Olympic Games to East London, On the Wrong Side of the Track?Read the rest

Thinking Through The Olympics: Some Online Resources

The field of Olympic Studies exists at the intersection of many disciplines, each of which has its own angle, its own story to tell: the historical sociology of sport; media and cultural studies; the anthropology of performance; urban and community studies; political science, and so on. The field is also traversed by what might be called hyper-disciplines – theories and methodologies that claim to provide general paradigms of understanding for the human sciences viz Marxism, feminism, post-colonial studies, post-structuralism, each of which has its own strategy for topicalising the field, its own preferred reading of the issues centred variously on class, gender, ethnicity or discourse analysis.… Read the rest

Olympic Dreams and Nightmares

This gallery of 192 images  contains the following sections:

  • Mix n Kitsch
  • Scenes from the Tempest
  • The Nay Sayers :images of protest
  • The Anti-Industrial machine
  • The Ceremonies-inter-ludology
  • Carrying the torch-
  • Ideal worlds and imaginary cities
  • Dialectics of the Enlightenment

It is designed as a visual essay to compliment Part two of ‘On the Wrong Side of the Track?


Download the PowerPoint here:  Olympic Dreams and Nightmares.… Read the rest

East London – A Journey through the Ruins

A Journey through the Ruins of East London.


Download the PowerPoint here: Journey Through the Ruins.  Please note that depending on your connection speed the download may take some time due to the size of the file.  To view the media, the gallery above contains the same slides.… Read the rest

Body Politics

This gallery of 120 images in Body Politics contains the following sections:

  • Elemental Labour-Mummers, miners and sweeps
  • Time and Motion Studies-Automata
  • Youth culture and extreme sport
  • Physical culture and the dream of the collective body
  • Masculinity and  manual labour in a post industrial world.

It is designed to support ‘On the wrong Side of the Track?’ and ‘Borderscapes’.

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Download the PowerPoint here:  Body Politics.… Read the rest

Building Back Better?

 Hysterical Materialism and the role of the University in post-pandemic heritage making: the case of East London[1]                                           

 The removal of World Heritage status from Liverpool’s new dockside development in 2021 re-animated a rhetorical divide in urban planning which many people had thought well and truly buried – the conflict between the priorities of heritage conservation (renovation must preserve and enhance, leaving everything as far as possible intact)  versus iconoclastic slash and burn regeneration (everything must be demolished to make a new start).… Read the rest