The Echo Chamber of the Street: Young Muslims and traversals of time/space as critique

Dr Ajmal Hussain1

1University Of Manchester


This paper offers reflections from on-going fieldwork conducted on a street in Birmingham, UK that has featured in media and security services’ concerns with radicalisation and the subsequent radicalisation of Muslims. The street hosts an extensive Islamic infrastructure, making it an intense site of activity for young Muslims.

Drawing on interviews and observations carried out in informal spaces such as restaurants, cafes and on pavements, I shed light on the ‘street’ as a unique site of encounters and exchanges. In this time/space I witness the  emergence of a deliberative discourse and styles of reasoning through which new practices of citizenship and belonging are uttered.

I suggest that the resultant sociality of the street shapes different modalities of radical thinking and behaviour. In so doing, it highlights the importance of street encounters in helping to engage people who would not otherwise attend formal spaces of religion or political deliberation. This means that there is less rigour in navigating religious and political doctrines, because the street has its own order, authority or ‘code’ around which ideas of virtuous behaviour are concocted. I consider the potentiality of such encounters and spaces in affecting new forms of recognition in a climate of hostility.


Dr Ajmal Hussain is Research Fellow in Sociology at the University of Manchester where he is leading the UK element of ethnographic research within Islamist milieus as part of the H2020 funded project ‘Dialogue about Radicalisation and Equality’. His book in progress, tentatively titled Urban Rituals documents the emergence of Muslim vernacular culture through analysis of the interaction between the material, social, and narrative life of the inner city. It makes use of work in the areas of affect, infrastructure and assemblage to develop a new theoretical framework for understanding the relationship between multiculture and faith in everyday urban life.

White space and urban belonging: a scoping review

Dr Iris Levin1, Dr Tracy Castelino

1Swinburne University Of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia, 2ShantiWorks, Richmond, Australia


Recently, emerging research has focused on urban belonging to capture the capacity of the city and its public spaces in enhancing the sense of belonging for diverse populations. Especially in the past decade, cities are having to deal with dilemmas around the appropriation of public space and strategies for promoting belonging in public urban spaces in contexts of heightened security. Yet not many have examined urban belonging from the perspective of white privilege, and most accounts have neglected the spatial dimension of belonging and its inter-relationship with power and race. In Australia, there has been little discussion about white privilege and its manifestation in the urban space, except for a few (e.g. Lobo 2014; Malone 2007; Shaw 2007). Yet white space is still hardly ever made visible in Australian cities. Additional research is needed to expose the spatial forms of belonging in Australian cities in an era of increasing securitisation of public space, in the context of whiteness. This proposed study, through ethnographic methods and Qualitative GIS, will fill these theoretical and empirical gaps and will produce a comprehensive spatial analysis of urban belonging in Australia in the context of white privilege.


Iris Levin is Research Fellow at the Centre for Urban Transitions working on housing, migration and social diversity. Iris Levin gained her PhD from the University of Melbourne in 2010, has a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning and a B.Arch. in Architecture, gained from the Technion, Israel.

Iris’s research focuses on issues around housing, migration, disadvantaged communities and social mix in the city. Iris has been involved in research focusing on migrants and their sense of belonging in their homes, social inclusion in public urban spaces, and socially mixed communities.

Shadowing Places: Toxic Geographies and Multispecies Justice

A/Prof. Donna Houston1

1Macquarie University, North Ryde, Australia


Haraway once wrote that there will be “no nature without justice”. On a planet burdened and shaped by the uneven geographies and accumulative violence of climate change, mass extinction, and ‘chemical regimes of living’ (Murphy 2008), justice matters to lives of historically situated humans and nonhumans.  This paper explores the entangled histories of environmental racism and justice and its continued significance for multinatural territorial struggles and materially contested narrations of the Anthropocene.  The discussion focuses on processes of shadowing places – the rendering of life as pollutable under racialized and gendered capitalism and the possibilities raised by alter-politics that are reimagining abundant futures beyond Western logics of extraction and single ontology articulations of environmental justice.


Donna Houston is an urban and cultural geographer in the Department of Geography and Planning at Macquarie University. Her research explores the intersections of urban political ecology and environmental justice in the Anthropocene; cultural dimensions of climate change; toxic landscapes and bodies; spaces of extinction, and planning in the ‘more-than-human’ city.  She is particularly interested in how cultural methodologies such as storytelling, visual methods and memory-work can be used to address current social and environmental challenges.

“Melbourne celebrates animal cruelty while refugees suffer”: connecting distant sites of detention and the ‘race that stops the nation’

Dr Andrew Burridge1

1Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia


In both the 2017 and 2018 editions of the Melbourne Cup, protestors from the Whistle-blowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA) have taken direct action to disrupt the event, drawing attention to the damaging effects of both onshore and offshore detention of asylum seekers conducted by the Australian government. Those protesting have called for the immediate evacuation of those detained on Manus and Nauru, while also linking Australia’s cruelty towards both humans (asylum seekers) and animals (horses raced at Melbourne Cup).

While WACA have protested in a variety of locations and iconic sites, the decision to target the Melbourne Cup was important for several reasons. Flemington Racecourse is only 4km from the then operational Maribyrnong Detention Centre: connections were made between the detention of persons both onshore and offshore, and to Australia’s major cities and cultural events. Engaging with the theme of the 2019 IAG, this presentation explores the geographies of emergence, divergence and convergence enacted by WACA, connecting local and distant sites, while considering the ethico-political spaces and potentialities created through direct-action protest, while also drawing connections between the racialized practices of immigration controls and detention, and the torture of animals.


Urban and political geographer with specialisation in urban studies and urban planning; migration; asylum and refugee re/settlement; carceral geographies; critical border studies; international boundary law and border management; mobilities; humanitarianism; social and spatial justice.

Dazzling Worlds: Radiations from the Indian Ocean Edge

Dr Michele Lobo1

1Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia


In the Manifesto for Abundant Futures, Collard et al (2014) argue that the advent of the Anthropocene is a ‘spark’ that can light a fire in our imaginaries for enacting pluriversal worlds. Indigenous, Black, southern and subaltern ontologies, however, highlight the scholarly and everyday struggle to produce these multiple realities in cities when racialising assemblages acquire stability in maintaining hierarchies of animacy and what it means to be properly human. This paper acknowledges the racialised logics of the Anthropocene grounded in white supremacy, white mastery and white affects of anxiety that focus on a One-World View highlighting crisis, catastrophe and extinction. But it seeks to go beyond this view by illuminating a geoaesthetics from ‘black and brown worlds’ on the edges of the Indian Ocean. Drawing and building on the work of Kathryn Yusoff and Edouard Glissant, I draw attention to the political dimension of geoaesthetics that destabilises racialised assemblages that have acquired inertia and nourishes ecological intimacies with a volatile, damaged earth.


Michele Lobo is a social and cultural geographer internationally recognised for her scholarship on Anthropocene urbanism, race, Islam, affect and co-belonging that bridges diasporic knowledges with Indigenous and southern traditions of thought. She serves as the Editor of Social & Cultural Geography and the Reviews Editor, Postcolonial Studies, both highly regarded international journals. Her recent grants include a DFAT/Australia-India Council Grant on Australia-India student mobility and cultural diplomacy (2018), an ARC DECRA grant on Indigenous-ethnic minority encounters in Darwin and an ARC Discovery Grant on urban Islam in Australia, France and USA.

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