Beyond hospitality: constructing spatial citizenship in the shadow of temporary protection
In an essay originally published in 1997, Jacques Derrida considered the 'problem' of the right to asylum in Europe and the developed world more generally. Noting that this right has been progressively reduced to a specifically juridical concept, Derrida suggests the possibility of "look(ing) to the city, rather than to the state", as the source of protection for asylum seekers. He raises the prospect of 'cities of refuge' as autonomous sites of a new cosmopolitanism, capable of enlivening the historical duty of hospitality. Here I respond to the challenge posed by Derrida, by arguing that rather than focusing on particular cities as sites of refuge, there is an urgent need to extend a 'right to the city' as articulated in the writings of Henri Lefebvre, to all those who inhabit urban space. I do so through a demonstration of the spatial contradictions manifest in the region of western Sydney and juxtapose the new 'aspirational' suburbs which operate as landscapes of self-reliance, with the declining areas of the middle-west where many temporary protection visa holders have been forced to live. I argue that defending the spatial rights of those living in the shadow of temporary protection can play a crucial part in the construction of more inclusive forms of spatial citizenship in Australian cities and regions.
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