The Conjoined Spectacles of the “Smart Super Bowl”

Renee Shelby, Sarah Barnes, Nassim Parvin, Mary G. McDonald


This essay examines the Super Bowl and the smart city as conjoined spectacles. A focused case study on Super Bowl LIII and its staging in Atlanta, Georgia in 2019 allows us to investigate how the use of cutting-edge smart technologies, including cameras, sensors, artificial intelligence, image recognition, and data collection techniques to secure Mercedes Benz stadium naturalizes a broader anticipatory logic of state and corporate intervention, often evoked in the name of public safety and terrorism-prevention. Together the spectacles of sport and smart technologies gloss over systemic inequality and legitimize security infrastructures as well as related ideas that social problems such as a lack of affordable housing, police brutality, and environmental degradation are best addressed through technological solutions. Foregrounding the conjoined spectacles of the smart city and Super Bowl problematizes seemingly necessary security processes and social relations among people, events, technologies, and cities, inviting further research and discussions necessary for strengthening critical interventions and theorizing in these areas. 


smart city; Super Bowl LIII; Atlanta; security technology; surveillance; predictive policing

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Copyright (c) 2020 Renee Shelby, Sarah Barnes, Nassim Parvin, Mary G. McDonald

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