My research project addresses urban mega-events such as European Capital of Culture (ECOC) and UK City of Culture (UKCOC). In specific, I investigate Donostia/ San Sebastian as ECOC in 2016 and Hull as UKCOC in 2017. The so called ‘culture-led urban mega-events’ are discussed as catalysts for change, as they are often accompanied by regeneration processes for the awarded cities. The intentions and objectives of each awarded city vary to a vast extend – art, culture and heritage are used as social, cultural, political and economic tools to achieve transformation.
In this context, I investigate the potential for gender equality. I analyze the politics, practices and perceptions of gender equality in the context of these culture-led urban mega-events. I do not work with a fixed interpretation of gender equality, which I test or apply in different context. Rather, I investigate how through the awareness, discussion and engagement with gender, a culture-led urban mega-event can produce a culture of gender equality.
I situate my research within the GRACE project. Funded by the European Commission
under the Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie framework, the GRACE project questions the productions, transformations and performances of cultures of gender equality in Europe. In particular, my research states part of the work package 2 and therefore relates to the overall research question: In what ways has the city in an urbanising, cosmopolitan Europe created eventful sites for the production, contestation and disciplining of cultures of gender equality?
My research responds to interests of GRACE, as the investigated mega-events state performances of transformational processes through the production of cultural events. Gender is not explicitly addressed in these mega-events, however, gender and social equality are constantly present through the processes of social, cultural, political and economic production, transformation and performance, which the mega-events entail. Therefore, my investigation outlines the relevance, influence and necessity of gender in these processes accumulated in culture-led urban mega-events.
 Therefore, I am using the term ‘gender equality’ without capitalized letters. This linguistic variation, as hooks in relation to her name discusses, allows to subvert the pre-conceptualization of terminology.