Capitals of culture have most commonly been researched with regard to their claims of economic development and tourism impacts for a city, but since the millennium there has been a growing interest in the opportunities and challenges they present for citizen engagement.

From Umeĺ 2014 through to Rijeka 2020 European Capitals of Culture have firmly placed “participation” within their strategic plans and approaches to programming. In Aarhus for example the 2017 programme asked both the citizens and the cultural institutions to rethink culture and by so doing create more active citizenship while also support social and cultural change.

This themed section will examine the role of participation within capitals of culture in all stages from the bidding phase through delivery to the legacy of the programmes. It will explore the particular opportunities and challenges from working in these ways within major events that must also address very different international agendas.

We are interested in papers which might explore any or all of the following in relationship to capitals of culture or similar large scale cultural events

    • how participatory approaches challenge a narrow definition of the arts and offer a broader definition of culture.
    • whose voices are heard in the formation of cultural programmes and the role of cultural leadership
    • studies on the impact and value of participation both on from a citizen and institutional perspective
    • the balancing of and tensions between citizen engagement and other strategic objectives
    • case studies of participatory projects
    • critical perspectives on capitals of culture as a frame for participation
    • examination of different discourses of participation in e.g. policy documents or public communication
    • any other subjects related to the overall theme of the section


Time table:

Submission of proposals: April 1 2017. Proposals should be send to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We encourage submission of proposal based on both on-going research in this area, but also based on new research ideas to be carried out during 2017.

Acceptance of proposals: June 2017
Submission of drafts for peer review: March 1 2018

Research seminar (optional) with presentation and discussion of the papers: April 2018

May 2018: Return of peer reviews

August 15 2018: Revised submissions
November 2018: Publication

Participations adhere to the principle of Open Refereeing which will be done by contributors cross-reviewing the incoming contributions, meaning that all contributors will be asked to review two of the other contributions.  In addition the peer review process will involve members of the editorial team for this edition.

Submission guidelines for the papers can be found here: