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'At Least I Don't Live in Vegemite Valley': racism and rural public housing spaces

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Drawing on a series of interviews conducted with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous public housing tenants in 2005, this paper investigates the way in which racialised discourses were used to construct rural public housing spaces and Indigenous tenants in the inland city of Griffith in south-western New South Wales (NSW). Informed by the literatures on 'old' and 'new' forms of racism, the paper identifies three separate, yet interdependent, discursive strategies used by interviewees. These include discourses that: (1) racialised Griffith's public housing spaces; (2) constructed Indigenous public housing tenants as receiving 'unfair privileges'; and (3) constructed Indigenous public housing tenants as 'ungovernable'. Furthermore, the employment of the 'denial' or 'disclaimer' as a discursive tactic in 'new' forms of racism was found to be used strategically as a means of maintaining such constructions. The paper ultimately seeks to contradict arguments, made by both Australian media outlets and politicians, that racism is an irrelevant factor when more broadly considering the issues facing rural public housing estates. The paper argues instead that 'race' is an integral feature to how some rural public housing estates and tenants are constructed and that racism is often an 'everyday' aspect of many public housing tenants' experiences.
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Keywords: Griffith; Indigenous Australians; Racism; public housing; rural spaces

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of New England, Armidale, Australia

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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