In some ways the title of this conference is slightly imprecise, since some of the papers tackle how race and multiculture is experienced in non-urban settings. One such paper is from Daniel Burdsey, a Reader at the University of Brighton, whose new book, Race, Place and the Seaside, tackles lived multiculture on the English coast. These are places that are strongly white, both in terms of demographics and cultural associations; after all what is more quintessentially English than the English seaside? So what makes this a suitable case for the study of living with racial and ethnic difference? Combining his interests in place and space, and popular culture and leisure, Dan’s research into coastal towns sheds light on how environments are racialised. For instance, Dan analyses seasides amusements and discovers strong underlying discourses around race, often involving Orientalist representations of the Other and gameplay based around exploring and conquering exotic far-away regions. As Dan says in an interview with Laurie Taylor on BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed, ‘what appear as innocent traditions can have racialised and excluding connotations for other groups’.
Moreover, while seaside towns are seen as stable white spaces, these places are changing in terms of demographic composition, with new migrants arriving and older migrants retiring to these towns, alongside an increasing number of youthful minority ethnic people born in the seaside. As such, coastal regions represent a unique and important space to examine the dynamics of contemporary multiculture. As Rajinder Dudrah argues in his study of ‘diasporicity’ in Portsmouth, research into less diverse non-metropolitan cities and towns nonetheless provides useful insights to think about the local lived experiences of race and multiculture and how this relates to the broader national context. In the spirit of the conference, Dan’s focus on the innocuous and the hidden is incredibly revealing about the stark realities of race.
‘Race, Place and the Seaside: Postcards from the Edge’ by Daniel Burdsey is published by Palgrave MacMillian and is out in July, 2016.
Daniel Burdsey presents ‘New (and not-so-new) seaside multicultures: postcards from the edge’ in the Living with difference session (Panel 9), 15:30-16:45 in room PSH326