Multicultural place-making in Australia : immigration, place and social value

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2009
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- While Australia today is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, the spatial impacts of Australian multiculturalism have been significantly under-researched. In particular, while places built by non-Anglo-Celtic immigrants have alternately inspired both fierce opposition as ‘foreign incursions’ into the landscape and public praise as testaments to Australia’s cultural diversity, little is known about the relationship between these places and social relationships in local neighbourhoods. This thesis draws on recent research by Lalich (2003) that posited that community facilities built by non-Anglo-Celtic immigrants facilitated the development of intra- and interethnic social capital. The research significantly extends Lalich’s analysis by investigating alternative approaches to understanding social value and inter-ethnic interaction, including ‘dialogue’ (Pedersen et al. 2005) and quotidian interactions in shared space (Amin 2002; Wise 2005). The research draws on empirical research in four case across urban and rural Australia. The inclusion of two rural sites overcomes both the urban bias of much immigration research and the inadequate attention to immigration in rural research. A common feature of case study analysis is the use of multiple methods to provide rich contextual detail. This thesis draws on 55 key informant interviews with representatives of local ethnic associations and government agencies. It also reports on the results of 200 visitor surveys across the two urban sites and draws on census data and historical materials. The thesis draws six key conclusions. First, it argues that places built and used by non- Anglo-Celtic immigrants are deeply embedded in Australia’s social and political geographies and, hence, are part of the ‘mainstream.’ Second, it extends Lalich’s approach with a qualitative analysis of inter- and intra-ethnic interactions and suggests that social value also includes a sense of belonging, the transmission of culture, and the facilitation of social and economic participation. Third, it argues that the concepts of ‘bonding’ and ‘bridging’ social capital are of little use in understanding inter-ethnic relations and that social capital research is aided by additional concepts from social theory. Fourth, it demonstrates that the sites built and used by non-Anglo-Celtic immigrants can both entrench difference and facilitate inter-cultural engagement. Fifth, it argues that while the representation of ethnicity in the built environment can perpetuate racialisation, it can also create spaces for inter-cultural learning. Finally, the thesis suggests that effective state support can help to ensure places built and used by non-Anglo-Celtic immigrants facilitate constructive inter-ethnic exchange.
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