The discourses of whiteness as outlined by Richard Dyer (1997) and Ghassan Hage (2009; 1998) provide suitable models in which to contextualize Abdullah’s work. Dyer views whiteness as normative and universal (1997: 45) and as an ideal (1997: 71); it is associated with of enterprise and striving (1997: 80), heterosexuality (1997: 39), a corporeal cosmology that values transcendence’ (1997: 39), and its invisibility and neutrality is manifest as a control over the body and the world’ (1997: 44). On the other hand, Hage’s significant contribution to whiteness studies describes the white fantasy of white Australian subjectivity concerning their paranoia, which he sees as a wish to control the racial mix of the nation.
I will elucidate the strategies in which Abdullah negotiates his positionality as a citizen and artist and constructs a sense of belonging in multicultural city spaces. This will demonstrate how Abdullah’s work utilizes the discourses of diversity, multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism, not by celebrating his relationship to his social space as a a site of exotic liminality’ (Cohen 2008: 318) but, rather, to reveal the ugly racism and anxieties that reside in the shadows’ of a white city. In this protest and resistance inherent in Abdullah’s work there is a culturally-productive site for inter-cultural dialogue rather than a form of retreatism (Hassan 2009: 10) that strengthens in-group solidarity while fostering out-group distrust (Putnam 2007). Influential American writer on Social Capital Robert D. Putnam’s thesis concerning the initial impact of ethnic diversity and immigration found a decline in active citizenship, social networks and trust among all races. However, he maintained this condition could be changed through the building of community by individuals joining clubs, volunteering and engaging in inter-cultural dialogue across communities. In the context of the globalization of urban spaces and its impact on those marginalized, Abdullah’s participation contributes to such dialogue.
While I make no claims that Abdullah’s work is in any way representative of other Muslim artists in Australia, this discussion will perhaps shed light on many issues that may be apply to Muslims in Australia, Europe and in North America, and other migrants and minority groups that are denied a substantive sense of belonging to their new home through exclusion from the imagined community of the globalized city and nation.
See also Guild system. Arminians. Followers of Protestant religious Iraq Map leader Jacob Arminius. The sect rejected the Calvinist doctrines of predestination and election and believed that human Iraq Map free will is compatible with God’s sovereignty. Also called Remonstrants or Remonstrators. Assiento.
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