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The Sydney riots

Andrew Dawson

Keywords: Australia; multiculturalism; riots; Sydney

This article describes the recent Sydney riots and the commentary surrounding them. The author demonstrates how, through processes of ‘analytical et nic cleansing’, ‘ethnic homogenization and specification’, and ‘blame displacement’, the Lebanese Muslim community, a target of the initial rioters, came to be victimized in commentary on the riots. While the riots may not have been particularly significant in themselves, the commentary surrounding them provides an important window onto the state of cultural politics in Australia at a specific juncture in time when multi-culturalism is simultaneously hegemonic but subject to attack from Australia’s ruling federal political regime. The author claims, moreover, that the victimization of Lebanese Muslims is indicative of a particular current process in which a discourse of multi-culturalism, engendered largely by its liberal advocates and drawing on the scholarly works of anthropologists and other social scientists, is utilized to undermine multi-culturalism as a form of social policy and organization.

Affiliations

Dawson, Andrew - University of Melbourne