Ethnic Diversity in Western Sydney

I’ve been doing a visual sociology of the Western Suburbs of Melbourne via Instagram, which is why I loved this story. The Western Sydney suburb of Granville had been hosting a bus tour highlighting the cultural diversity of Sydney’s architecture. People could also visit sites on foot and get historical and cultural information via their iPads. Tour curator John Kirkman says they focused on sites that had once been dominated by Anglo Australian businesses and had now diversified:

I think it’s really special because it’s a great representation of what Australia really is… When I grew up here it was mainly Anglo people. Now it’s not. It’s people from the Middle East, Africa, the Pacific, people who come to make Australia home live here.

The Western suburbs in Sydney and Melbourne have the highest proportion of non-English-speaking migrants in Australia. They are also predominantly working class suburbs that are often a source of derision amongst mainstream media. Most Australian news tends to only report on these suburbs when there are crimes and other social problems, such as so-called “race riots.”

Rise of the Pundit

This video raises issues about how traditional media outlets are paying for and seeking out certain types of opinion writers. It’s about “writing noise.” It’s about filling air time while appearing to offer diverse views. As these freelance writers say, some of them will “spam” editors with blog post ideas until someone takes bait. Others will tailor their opinions according to the publication or news outlet, which suggests there is little genuine opinion or critical analysis. Some of these writers also talk about how their opinions are solicited but go unpaid. Continue reading Rise of the Pundit

Ending Violence Against Women

Last week was also the 10th anniversary of White Ribbon Day in Australia, which begins a period of activism to stop violence against women, culminating on December 10th with Human Rights Day.

It’s disturbing to see this anniversary greeted not with encouraging reports of widespread activism and positive change, but with ongoing reports of male violence toward women. In a society where men are statistically the main perpetrators of violence against all genders, we need to accept some hard truths. The problem is whenever we try to accept anything, a raft of excuses and counter attacks arrive: violence is caused by monsters not men, the statistics are wrong, men suffer violence as well. Continue reading Ending Violence Against Women

Racialised Beauty Norms

The Australian documentary “Change My Race” explores how Western beauty ideals are influencing a rising pressure amongst Asian women to get cosmetic surgery. The documentary maker Anna Choy is an Asian-Australian woman who has struggled with her looks in the face of racism growing up. She speaks to women from various backgrounds who have a desire to look more White as a direct result of the racism they have endured.

The most heart-breaking story for me is the 17 year old schoolgirl whose parents pressure her into getting surgery, which they think will help her be more successful.

The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons reports that South Korea leads the number of cosmetic procedures. The most common surgeries overall include  lipoplasty and breast augmentation.

Documentary via SBS. Graphic via Sociological Images.

Albinos in Brazil

Albinos in Brazil is a project highlighting the racism that people face. Photographer Gustavo Lacerda discusses how standards of beauty are narrow. This leads to misconceptions about this condition of skin pigmentation, and a feeling of alienation among albinos:

My intention was to highlight a type of beauty which is completely out of normal beauty standard… For these people it is completely new to be at the centre of attention. They’re not used to it.

In many countries, Albinos face persecution because of their light skin and fair hair. They are often seen as being different – outcasts from society – and are often not regarded as beautiful.

Many of these people often feel marginalised, rejected. They feel different from what [society offers] as a standard of normality… It’s much easier to accept what is similar or identical to what you know. The reality is, generally people are ill-equipped to deal with diversity.

Lacerda says he witnessed two emotions in the eyes of the people he photographed: “uneasiness and a pride to be here.”

19th Century Migrants in North Head in Manly, Sydney

In the 19th century, North Head in Manly, Sydney, became established as Australia’s oldest quarantine station. SBS Australia has chronicled the evolving archaeological study of this historic site. Over 13,000 migrants from all over the world were quarantined there between 1828 and 1984. Archaeologist Annie Clarke says around 580, 600 people died and were buried in three cemeteries at the station. Many more became ill, while others survived and were resettled in Australian society. Clarke is studying over 100 inscriptions on the site, put there by migrants, and her team of researchers are also interviewing descendants of these migrants who arrived by sea.

Continue reading 19th Century Migrants in North Head in Manly, Sydney

Refugees Not Allowed “The Dignity” To Work in Australia

Last month, 400 asylum seekers were released from detention centres in Darwin, Australia, on “bridging visas.” An estimated 200 of them came to Melbourne. Under the Government’s “no advantage” mandate, these asylum seekers must now find their own accommodation. Many of them have moved into aged care homes, former convents and student flats. Those lucky enough to already have family in Australia can stay with family members. The precariousness of these asylum seekers’ lives is compounded not just by their temporary and restrictive visas and their temporary lodgings, but also by the fact that they are not allowed to work. Instead, they must live off basic welfare payments. This might go on for years, while their applications for permanent residency are under review. Continue reading Refugees Not Allowed “The Dignity” To Work in Australia

South Australia’s Apology for Forced Adoption

To all those hurt we say sorry… We apologise for the lies, the fear, the silence, the deceptions. We hear you now, we acknowledge your pain and we offer you our unreserved, sincere regret and sorrow for those injustices… We seek to reconcile the South Australian community with these people who have suffered so much.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill delivers a public apology to the parents, children and communities affected by the State-sanctioned practice of forcing unwed mothers to give up their babies. It is estimated that 17,000 children in South Australia were adopted before 1980 “and some of these were forced adoptions.” Forced adoptions were a common practice around Australia between the 1950s and the 1970s, affecting around 150,000 unmarried mothers across the country.

Source: SBS Australia.

Polygamy Among the Yirrkala People

Indigenous-Australian local leader, Dhalulu Ganambarr-Stubbs, from the Yirrkala in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, Australia, speaks about growing up with a father who had seven wives. In her culture, this practice was the norm and she sees many benefits to her upbringing.

Insight covers polygamy.