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Reading relationally: a proposal for relational-comparative research concerning city/capital of culture events

Barbara Grabher (School of Business and Law, University of Brighton, Brighton, UK)

Arts and the Market

ISSN: 2056-4945

Article publication date: 16 October 2023




García and Cox (2013) have clarified that there is an urgent need for comparative studies of city/capital of culture (COC) events. With the ambition to foster exchange and learning, knowledge production concerning cultural initiatives requires to think beyond the individual case study of a singular event. Simultaneously, the two scholars observe comparability and context-sensitivity between events as a major issue in these particular canons of research.


Drawing upon the research experience of the project, this article experiments with a novel reading of city/capital of culture events.


Beyond the singularity of a case study but with attention to context-sensitivities, the article proposes a relational reading practice to study the culture-led event framework. The author illustrates the proposed approach with material collected in ethnographic fieldwork in the cities of Donostia/San Sebastián, European COC 2016, and Hull, UK COC 2017.


By using one case study as a metaphorical pair of glasses framing the investigative perspective on the other, an analytical relationship between two COC events is established, fostering a broader prism of analysis and connected learning.



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 675378. The author’s gratitude goes to all research participants, who continuously support the investigation as they challenge, reflect on and discuss the developments in and of their city with the her.


Grabher, B. (2023), "Reading relationally: a proposal for relational-comparative research concerning city/capital of culture events", Arts and the Market, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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