Australia is a highly urbanised nation, founded on a relatively recent legacy of colonial racism and dispossesion, now with one of the highest formal migrant intakes per capita globally. This makes Australian cities prime sites of the ‘metropolitan paradox’ (Back 2009: 5-6) for staging intercultural dialogue within an arena where enduring forms of prejudice co-exist. This chapter thus seeks to foreground how multiculturalism is ‘done’ in an ordinary street – Sydney Road in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city inhabited by well over four million people. Recent studies in this area highlight a clear sense that not only is such everyday multiculturalism (Wise 2009) highly situated in place, but also it varies from place to place – especially with regard to the degree of mobility of the host culture. Further, it acknowledges the role agonism plays in the micro-publics of ordinary, everyday spaces (Amin 2002). For Mouffe, the concept of agonistic democracy accepts internal conflicts as an inevitable outcome of intersecting political traditions under the banner of ‘liberal democracy’ (Mouffe 2000: 2-3) that cannot be resolved through rational deliberation. Agonistic democracy re-frames conflictual interactions as between adversaries of equal value rather than contests in which one side must be defeated, or one set of values must be eclipsed. Agonism accepts conflicted co-existence without resorting to violence. Multiculturalism can thus be seen processually, with identities not fixed or finished, and like urban milieux where multiculture flourishes, in a constant state of becoming. This complicates concepts of conviviality and cohesion, by incorporating the negative and the difficult as essential to processes of becoming multicultural and forever in play (Modood 2007; Parekh 2002) in multiple ways and scales assembled through ordinary, everyday places (Wise and Velayutham 2009; Amin 2008; Amin and Graham 1997; Massey 1991). It reacts against previously prevailing ideas that the multiculutral project has failed (Lentin and Titley 2011; Alibhai-Brown et al. 2006; Vertovec and Wessendorf, 2009; Werbner 2009) and instead seeks to understand
the capacities, morphologies, structures and practices that support a multicultural conviviality both in Australia (Fincher and Iveson 2008; Noble 2009, 2011; Pardy and Lee 2011; Wise and Velayutham 2014) and elsewhere (Hall 2011, 2013; Hall and Datta 2010; Wood and Landry 2008).