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Polyrhythmia, heterogeneity and urban identity: Intersections between ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ narratives in the socio-spatial practices of Australia’s Gold Coast

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Australia’s Gold Coast typically positions itself as a luxurious, upmarket resort city or a family-friendly, ‘fun in the sun’ holiday destination. At the same time, the Gold Coast lifestyle is often associated with hedonism, sexuality and excess. Yet the city is also home to over half a million residents whose daily lives – work, education and leisure – routinely take place within and against these powerful and familiar representations. Thus, the city’s identity can be seen as constituted by a series of conflicting ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ narratives. The ‘official’ narrative is produced by how the city markets itself to tourists, and comes to include popular imaginaries of place that these representations construct and perpetuate. Beyond this, however, residents produce varied and multiple ‘unofficial’ narratives through their engagements with the actualities of their locality as well as with its metanarratives. Surfers Paradise, as the main tourist hub and entertainment precinct of the Gold Coast, is a site of convergence for these competing narratives. Drawing on Lefebvre’s rhythmanalysis, this article explores how conflicting narratives and disjunctions in identities of place manifest themselves in spatial practice in Surfers Paradise.
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Keywords: Gold Coast; imaginaries; rhythmanalysis; social space; tourism; urban identity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Griffith University

Publication date: 01 September 2015

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  • Cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social-science disciplines, but there has been relatively little dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. Journals in social-science fields that use urban-studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close readings of the representation of cities in individual cultural products. As a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship from any and all linguistic, cultural and geographical traditions, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies prioritizes the urban phenomenon in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.
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