The Exhaustion of the Multicultural Australian Philosophy and the Rise of a New Visual Regime of Signification: Melbourne between Multiculturalism and Globalization


The Second World War caused unprecedented hardship, but it also accelerated change. A massive European immigration reached Australia’s shores, giving rise to a sort of ideal multi-ethnic society. Between history and myth, diverse ethnic groups interacted without coalescing and by maintaining distinctive, national or group cultural identities. Indeed Melbourne rose as one of the world's most multicultural cities with the largest transnational immigrant population of Australia. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the ‘global’ pervades the multicultural social fabric of the city through the relentless spread of hybrid cultural objects and it has the symbolic power to transform urban spaces by creating the ‘global imaginary’ in single places. This presentation aims to grasp how the shift from the ‘multicultural’ to the ‘global’ is increasingly rising a new visual global regime in Melbourne. Exemplified by a given body of still images, two of which are analyzed and interpreted through the lens of social and political theory, this paper investigates how symbols found in the urban space of Melbourne construct a new social imaginary that is simultaneously local, national and global. These images are limited, selective and highly subjective representations of concepts associated with structures, places and identity; yet they are crucial keys to access the ‘global imaginary’. In visualizing and interpreting global change in Melbourne, this paper observes that, while Australia’s multicultural philosophy seems an exhausted discourse exceeded by the ‘global’, Asia appears as a primary cultural globalizing force reshaping one of the most multicultural cities in the world.

Author Information
Tommaso Durante, RMIT University, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2014
Stream: Cultural Studies

This paper is part of the ACCS2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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