Research projects usually begin with a question, but for Franklin & Marshall senior government major Anne Dolan, it was a desire to study the Olympics.
"I wanted an excuse to study the Olympics because in the most idealistic sense, the world stops fighting and comes together to play sports," Dolan said. "In reality, it's also this gigantic security operation."
Dolan found the question to her research project while reading the books assigned in Assistant Professor of Government Nina Kollars' 21st Century Security class. The authors wrote that no one knows what happens to the security operation after the Olympics ends. Is it dismantled or kept in place?
"They are all suggest is that there's this security legacy or an extension of security that is going to remain at the site of the Olympics and the city that was the host of the games," Dolan said.
With Kollars' advisement, Dolan decided to try to answer the question, and for this purpose chose to study the 2012 Olympics, which were held in London and the surrounding suburbs. She examined government documents to trace the building of the security structure and what now remained.
Then this winter, with the support of a Nissely Grant, Dolan traveled to London, intending to observe what remnants of security remained nearly four years later.
"What I found was at the Olympic venue, there were cameras everywhere, these giant areas clearly ready to handle the masses, but the park was empty because no event the scale of the Olympics would happen there again," she said.
In London, Dolan found cameras all around the city and throughout the transportation system, including the streets and subway, or Tube. But certain areas had more cameras while others had fewer. This raised another, unanticipated question, as research does.
"Why would some spaces be more secure than others?" Dolan said. "At The Olympic Park, there are cameras everywhere; in the Tube, there are cameras everywhere; but in the public parks, there are no cameras."
Based on what she observed, Dolan now suspects there is more to the security issue than what the authors she studied suggested.
"What I found in London is it's much more complicated," she said. "The public parks that hosted Olympic events had no visible security, but I've found the theory to explain that. Effective security, according to author Michel Foucault, must allow for freedom of behavior in some spaces in society. Throughout London, the frequency and types of security varies.