Cities of race hatred? The spheres of racism and anti-racism in contemporary Australian cities

Kevin M Dunn
James Forrest
Rogelia Pe-Pua
Maria Hynes
Karin Maeder-Han


Cities are indeed places of everyday racism, experienced as ethnocentrism, prejudice and ethnic-based hatred. Drawing on an Australia-wide telephone survey of respondents' experiences of 'everyday' racism in various contexts, conducted in 2006, we examine forms of racist experience, as well as the contexts and responses to those experiences for Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, Australia’s main immigrant-receiving cities. Results show that between 1 in 10, and 1 in 3 respondents, depending on their background and situation, experience some form of 'everyday' racism. However, this particular aspect of urban incivility is shadowed by everyday good relations. There is what might be called a ‘geography of cultural repair’ and cultural maintenance within the cosmopolitan city. There is strong support for anti-racism policy. Where action is taken in response racism it is determined by everyday confrontations and attempts at direct reconciliation. Formal complaints and reports are much rarer forms of anti-racism. In this paper we advocate a pragmatic on-going, agonistic politics of cultural exchange and tolerance.

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