Vernacular Cosmopolitanisms in Suburban Peripheries: A Case Study in Multicultural Sydney

Rebecca Williamson


This article examines different forms of cosmopolitanism that shape everyday spaces in a multicultural suburb at the periphery of urban and political dynamics of Sydney. I investigate two forms of cosmopolitanism: top-down cosmopolitanism as part of place-making strategies enacted by local government and associated parties, and ordinary intercultural encounters enacted in public spaces. The latter kind of vernacular cosmopolitanism does not necessarily fit with prevailing ideas of marketable diversity in the cosmopolitan city. The paper analyses these dynamics using a case study of Campsie, a peripheral multi-ethnic neighbourhood between Sydney’s Inner West and South West regions. The examples of vernacular exchange portrayed here point to the important role that space – as a social, political and material assemblage – plays in mediating the everyday performance of ‘ground-up’ cosmopolitanism. The paper argues that the dense web of spatially mediated interactions – ordinary cosmopolitanism – reveals values of civility and sociality that has the potential to foster inclusive urban spaces in multicultural cities.


cosmopolitanism; multiculturalism; urban planning; cities; public space

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