Living with the ‘force’ of Whiteness: Bodies on the beach in Darwin

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Presenter:  Dr Michele Lobo, Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation, Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University

Date: Jul 17, 2014

Time: 10:30am to 11:30am

Contact person:  Katrina Britnell
T: 08 8946 6838

Location:  Yellow Building 1, Level 2, Room 48 (Red Room), Northern Institute , Charles Darwin University - Casuarina Campus

Target audience:  All Welcome

michelle-loboLiving with the ‘force’ of Whiteness: Bodies on the beach in Darwin

Dr Michele Lobo

Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation

Faculty of Arts and Education

Deakin University


Emerging debates on anti-racism within white majority cultures centre emotion and affect to explore the visceral nature of racialised encounters that unfold in public spaces of the city. This paper builds on such understandings by conceptualising whiteness as a force that exerts affective pressures on bodies of colour who are hypervisible in public spaces. I show that these pressures have the potential to wound, numb and immobilise bodies affecting what they can do or what they can become. This paper argues, however, that affective energies from human and non-human sources are productive forces that are also sensed in public spaces such as the suburban beach. These energies entangle sensuous bodies with the richness of a more-than-human world and have the potential to offer new insights into exploring how racially differentiated bodies live with difference. The paper draws on ethnographic research conducted in Darwin, a tropical north Australian city at the centre of politicised public debates on asylum seeker policy, migrant integration and Indigenous wellbeing. My attention to affective pressures and affective energies contributes to understanding how bodies with complex histories and geographies of racialisation can inhabit a world of becoming.


Affective pressures, affective energies, encounter, whiteness, Indigenous and migrant bodies


Michele Lobo is an Australian Research Council Discovery Senior Research Fellow (ARC DECRA) at the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. She is a social and cultural geographer whose work draws on emotion, affect and encounter to explore whiteness, race and shared belonging in cities. Michele has published in Gender, Place and Culture, Population, Space and Place, Emotion, Space & Society, Journal of Intercultural Studies, Urban Policy and Research and Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies. She is the co-editor of Migration, Citizenship and Intercultural Relations: Looking through the lens of Social Inclusion (Ashgate 2011) and Intercultural Relations in a Global World (Common Ground, 2011).

RSVP Wednesday 16 July by email to