The visibility of bodies of colour in public space can engender responses of anxiety, insecurity and discomfort in cities with white majority cultures. Such embodied responses that privilege the invisibility of whiteness have effects if they mark Aboriginal people and asylum seekers who arrive by boat as ‘out of place’ in public spaces of Australian cities. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Darwin, I argue, however, that such white spaces are interrupted by habits of touch, multi-sensory events that contribute to fleshy moments of belonging for these racialised bodies that experience dispossession and displacement. Such belonging emerges from the intertwining fleshiness of bodies in a world where we affect and are affected by other bodies and things.
The paper explores two events held in public spaces of suburban Darwin, a weekly painting activity at a beach reserve that engages ‘Long Grassers’, Aboriginal people who live in open spaces, and a cooking session at a community centre that welcomes asylum-seeker families from a detention centre. Felix Ravaisson's philosophy of habit as virtue and spontaneous practice is a starting point for thinking about how haptic knowledges can provide a nuanced understanding of belonging, encounter and ethical engagement in a racially diverse white settler city.
Field of Research
160803 Race and Ethnic Relations
Socio Economic Objective
959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified
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