The ethnic landscape of rural Australia: Non-Anglo-Celtic immigrant communities and the built environment

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Journal Article
Journal of Rural Studies, 2009, 25 (4), pp. 376 - 385
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Rural ethnic minorities occupy unique economic, social, as well as geographical places in Australian society. Non-Anglo-Celtic immigrants have transformed the rural landscapes through the construction of public and private spaces expressing their cultural heritage. These sites can also significantly impact the dynamics of social cohesion and inter-cultural relations in multicultural rural communities. The paper explores the potential role of the sites built by rural ethnic minorities in promoting both intra-group solidarity and inter-group dialogue. It also provides insights into complexities of multicultural place-making. The paper is divided into two parts. The first part briefly explores the literature on the migration and heritage, place, belonging and social cohesion, and the relationship between social capital and the built environment. The second part outlines empirical findings from Griffith, a regional town in New South Wales. The focus is on the places built by Italian immigrants, such as the Italian clubs and the recently built Italian Museum and Cultural Centre. The construction of these places facilitated a sense of solidarity among the Italian immigrants and expressed their belonging to place. However, the immigrant's attempts at place-making simultaneously involved inscribing a degree of exclusivity and a strategy of becoming more a part of their new environment. In doing this there is also potential for multicultural place-making to intensify the existing intra- and inter-group tensions. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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