USS Kidd (DD661) by Robert F. Sumrall

By Robert F. Sumrall

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Indeed, the nature and implications of their local manifestations only come into view when they are understood as local . . [I am advocating] an attempt to engage the international and comparative diversity of whiteness. Rather than analysing local expressions of a globalizing white urbanism, however, I engage instead with Bonnett’s idea of ‘comparative diversity’, which has helped to unveil fantasies about imagined cosmopolitan urbanisms. Such fantasies have been conjured within local understandings in Sydney, about far-flung places such as Britain (through understandings of heritage) and New York (through New York style ‘loft’ development), past and present.

Moving away from the starkness of highly defined ‘black’ and ‘white’ spaces, where the space of whiteness absorbs all non-Aboriginal33 ethnicities, whiteness (like blackness)34 appears to fade, but the default ethnicity of ‘whiteness’ remains intact. These simple observations of the ascription of ethnicity to whiteness, have helped me to identify some of its covert operations. 40 ENCOUNTERING CITIES OF WHITENESS Unearthing historical geographies of whiteness The paradoxical presence of The Block has elicited a range of responses from the wider non-Aboriginal community.

As Bonnett (1997, 193) identified, in 1997, ‘the racialised subjects of geographical enquiry have remained . . the same, namely the activities and inclinations of marginalized ethnic groups, most especially nonWhites’. This ‘effacement of the ‘‘white’’ subject’, and the continued focus on constructions of the ‘other’ (see also Robinson 1994) has reflected more than a disciplinary unwillingness to engage. After all, geographers are well rehearsed in identifying political positionalities (Jackson 1991b).

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