Unofficial apartheid, convention and country towns: Reflections on Australian history and the New South Wales Freedom Rides of 1965

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Abstract

Many scholars have not only ignored or disavowed the long history of segregation of towns in country Australia, they have also failed to ask germane questions regarding the distinct terms of the production of racialized and gendered bodies and spaces in settler towns and cities, and how such deep genealogies of segregation continue to shape nominally postcolonial urban spaces. This article explores the history of segregation in New South Wales country towns, such as Walgett, and the partial success of the New South Wales Freedom Rides of 1965 that sought to direct national attention to spatial and social partitions in them. While some scholars have referred to segregation in Australia as ‘convention’, this article argues that claims of a more benign Australian convention or ‘unofficial apartheid’ may be exposed to reveal a concomitant range of strategic racialized manoeuvres, everyday yet official adjudications enacted by municipal and other authorities to create violent geographies of exclusion. Interrogation of convention at the street, town, and everyday level reveals the devastating biopolitics of the Australian settler-colonial urban, which while structurally different was no less devastating and thoroughgoing than those of the American South.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-190
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the Institute of Postcolonial studies
Volume15
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes

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