Macquarie University
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Imagining an African Community: African women in Western Sydney and the politics of sharing

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posted on 2022-03-29, 01:07 authored by Claire Farrugia
This thesis focuses on the sharing practices of women from different African backgrounds living in western Sydney. It takes as its starting point that sharing; the sharing of material resources, support, friendship and space can re-politicise functionalist explanations of migrant solidarity and social capital. How, what, where and with whom we share reveals a critical intersection between formal and informal support for migrant and refugee communities. I foreground the alternative imaginaries of community, social space, labour and belonging that African women share, in order to provide a more nuanced empirical and theoretical account of the lived experience of migrant resettlement under competitive forms of service delivery.The ground-up perspective of everyday multiculturalism is combined with feminist theories of political economy and citizenship, to help trace the struggles that women face 'entering the public' as they expand their informal practices of sharing to organise community events with public funds and within public spaces. Multi-sited and participatory ethnographic research was conducted in Sydney between 2012-2015 and 30 semi-structured interviews with service providers and community members were also recorded during that time. Faced with restricted funds and competing systems of value, accountability and risk, key community leaders speak to being caught between the sphere of unpaid work in informal community spaces and paid work with resettlement services. The woman who broker between these spaces are forced to enact an 'unruly mobility' to imagine and practice an African community on their own terms. Their mobility is unruly in that it draws on and contests,multiple norms of behaviour and action and creates a corresponding bricolage of public and private resources. The continued struggle to share social and material resources with one another allows African women in Sydney to reconfigure the boundaries, spaces and terms upon which they enter and move through the nation. Their community work troubles the distinctions between the informal and formal, unpaid and paid, public and private and generates new knowledge regarding how competitive forms of service provision influence collective processes of identification and belonging.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Sharing on the margins: race, gender and social support -- Chapter 3. Unsettling stories: the invisible spaces of arrival -- Chapter 4. "One hand cannot clap": creating spaces of welcome -- Chapter 5. Stumbling upon an institution -- Chapter 6. Brokering new social divisions -- Chapter 7. Sharing the burden: between the middle men of resettlement and a retreating state -- Chapter 8. Conclusion: from the local to the global: tracing unruly mobility.


Bibliography: pages 188-210 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Sociology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Sociology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Justine Lloyd


Copyright Claire Farrugia 2017 Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (210 pages)

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