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Melbourne Online Magazine

by Zeeshan Patoli, August 13, 2014

Melbourne Online Magazine

Melbourne is commonly regarded as one of the most liveable cities in the world. In 2013, it took out first place in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability index, and second place in Monocle magazine’s most liveable cities index. While these sources use a variety of metrics to quantify the concept of ‘liveability’, including climate, access to transport and environmental issues, the city’s own construction of its liveability heavily emphasizes its cultural diversity. The municipal government’s marketing materials boasts of it being ‘one of the world’s most harmonious and culturally diverse communities,’ where ‘residents from more than 140 nations live side by side.’  But what gets left out of such portrayal.  How do residents of various faiths, ethnicities, and backgrounds intersect, circumvent each other; what kinds of interactions among more marginalized populations create another city?

 

The project attempts to map how Melbourne’s faith-based communities operate within it.  The project focuses on two lines of enquiry. The first, pursued by Dr Chloe Patton and Dr Yassir Morsi, examines young Muslim Melbournians’ citizenship practices in the context of governmental policies and programs that aim to counter the perceived threat of ‘home grown’ violent extremism through community development projects that seek to develop state-endorsed forms of civic comportment. While scholars in the UK have begun to critically examine such programs, the focus tends to remain upon the programs themselves, particularly the extent to which they operate as covert forms of surveillance. Beginning from the analytic starting point of the experiences of the young people who are the targets of these interventions, we seek instead to explore the creative citizenship practices and new forms of civic engagement that are emerging in this discursive setting. How do dominant normative notions of the Muslim subject shape the everyday experiences and constitutive practices of selfhood of young Muslims living in postsecular Melbourne? What new subject positionings do they open up? What kinds of intersubjective antagonisms/allegiances do they foster? How are they impacting local political imaginaries that have until recently been modelled around a corporate-style multiculturalism premised upon reified ethnic/religious identities?

 

A broad range of materials including archival, interviews, documentaries, essays, and reports will be curated as a continuously updated web-based magazine, eventually equipped with interactive capacities so as to broaden participation in the project.

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