Panel 9 – Living with difference – PSH326

New (and not-so-new) seaside multicultures: postcards from the edge – Dr Daniel Burdsey, University of Brighton

In the two decades since Les Back’s formative account of urban life, British sociological and cultural geographical research on notions of everyday multiculture has travelled along a number of expansive trajectories: the countryside; the suburbs; and the micro-sites of racialised urban spaces, such as streets, road junctions, parks, cafés, markets, churches and housing estates. Yet these developments have only gone so far; put simply, they have stopped at the sight of the sea and sand, and refused to dip their analytical toes in the racialised spaces of the seaside and coast. This academic lacuna mirrors popular thinking, in which race, racialisation and racism have been expunged – or, more correctly, they have never been written into – the lived realities and material experiences of seaside and coastal environments.

This paper presents an alternative reading of the English seaside – one that central­ises race, specifically racialised and spatialised notions of belonging and exclusion, in combination with other pertinent forms of subjectivity. It argues that the seaside represents an illuminating site of racial, ethnic, cultural, national, corporeal and spatial politics, extending our understanding of how race and whiteness coalesce around dominant discourses of multiculture, immigration and Englishness. Drawing on a year of in-depth qualitative fieldwork in a seaside resort in southern England, this paper sheds light on the lives, and introduces the voices, of racialised Others who provide their interpretations of multicultural living in this setting. In doing so, it foregrounds the social, cultural and political processes that underpin processes of migration and community formation, and which dictate the im/mobilities of minority ethnic residents in and out of, and within, seaside spaces.

Conviviality, difference and inequality – Dr Tilmann Heil, University of Konstanz and Prof Magdalena Nowicka, Humboldt University

Current academic usages of the notion of ‘conviviality’ often carry a normative connotation in which it is opposed to tension and conflict. Instead, we propose to use conviviality as an analytical term; as such, it directs our focus on the everyday processes of how people live together in mundane encounters, of how they (re)translate between their sustained differences and how they (re)negotiate ways of being in the same locale. This everyday living together is characterized by tensions, contradictions and inconsistencies that complicate abstract theorization and the use of clearly defined concepts whose role is, as Stuart Hall once suggested, to give us a good night’s rest by feigning a stability we long for. If conviviality is, as we suggest, understood as a notion that embraces the inconsistencies, multiplicities and complexities of new urban ways of getting by despite remaining different, it also embraces the everyday manifestations of racism and other discriminatory practices.

Based on material from ethnographic fieldwork among African and European migrant populations in Europe (Barcelona, Berlin, Birmingham, London and Munich) and Latin America (Rio de Janeiro), this paper explores the relationship of lived discriminations and urban conviviality. It asks what kind of sociality and understandings thereof recent immigrants create in urban situations in which multiple, co-present social hierarchisations seem to define a rather limited space for them to be – to breath, to think, to act, to feel. Among other forces, the experience and acknowledgement of racism in multiple ways seems strongly mediated by class and education. In this context, nuanced understandings of urban conviviality unfold that ground in the experiences of living with difference had locally as well as along the routes of newly arrived urban dwellers.

“Diversity Our (?) Strength: Negotiating Race, Racialization and Be-longing in the City of Toronto” – Shana Almeida, York University

This paper explores “diversity” in the City of Toronto as a discourse, and thus as a mechanism of power. Specifically, this paper invites a critical interrogation into the logic and linearity of diversity in order to fully understand how political power of government and by extension its policies have been constructed through the reproduction of racialization and race, which in turn binds the “diverse” racial body/subject against the changing social, racial and political landscape of the City. In this paper, I suggest that in addition to seeking out the racialized images and imaginaries that inform descriptions of the “diverse” city, race is simultaneously refused and re-inscribed through local state policies and apparatuses in order to reinforce these descriptions. Drawing on the work of Sara Ahmed (2002) and Judith Butler (2011), I trace how racialization, or more accurately the essentialization of racial bodies, becomes intimately connected with negotiations of belonging for “insider-Others” in the diverse City, which reinforces the intelligibility and articulation of “diverse” subjects against the abjected “stranger stranger” who dares to make claims of racism in the space of the City. I also explore how diversity discourse invites such negotiations via being bound with deeply affective and emotional longings to be not-strange, not-raced; with the understanding that the various subjectivities that are caught up in the processes of yearning are both regulated and reproduced through diversity discourse, as racialized subjects.

‘Everyday Multiculturalism’; using sensory methods to explore ‘home’, heritage and identity in the everyday lives of migrant women in Glasgow – Ruth Webber, University of Leicester 

When we move to a new place, what tools and resources do we bring with us to facilitate the process of home-making in that new place? How do we navigate the web of multiple heritages, identities and ‘homes’ which might be at play, and what might looking at the everyday reveal about these processes more broadly?

Through my work with migrant, refugee and asylum seeker women in Glasgow, over the next five months I will use ethnography and sensory methods such as photo-elicitation and collage making and elicitation, to explore the non-linguistic ways in which this navigation takes place through embodied and emplaced ritual, habit and routine in their everyday lives. My use of sensory methods will provide an opportunity to open up notions of urban multiculture as manifested in identity and home-making practices, to include the more textured elements within these interactions with the world around us. These methods will also enable self-representation through the generation of sound / image / text in their own time and space away from the researcher / participant relationship.

I will begin this presentation with an exercise centred on the senses and the idea of home. Following this, I will outline the methodological and theoretical ground from which my work has grown. I will draw on the work of Raymond Williams, Sarah Pink, Stuart Hall and Judith Butler to explore ideas of culture as ordinary, identity and heritage as process, and to illustrate why I felt that sensory methods were the most effective for this project. Finally I will demonstrate preliminary findings by illustrating the outcomes of the methods that I have used with a selection of the participants I have worked with.