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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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

The Greeks and the Gifts they bring : Post Olympic heritage and place making in East London



The story of the Trojan horse and its role in ending the seige of the city  is a  cautionary tale about a fake legacy gift. It has  bequeathed to us the most famous line of Vergil’s Aeneid  through which schoolboys of my class and generation were introduced to the fiendish intricacies of Latin verse: Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes – I fear the Greeks and the gifts they bring.… Read the rest

London 2012  and the Post Olympic City- A Hollow Legacy ?

Edited by Phil Cohen and Paul Watt

Published Palgrave Macmillan  May 2017 ISBN 987-1-137-48946-3

The strap line for 2012 was ‘Inspire a Generation’, and with the advent of the Rio Games a new chapter in Olympic history is  being  written – now is the time  to both look back and forward , and reach a considered verdict about how far that promise has been delivered.… Read the rest