Ten years after the Cronulla riots, the violence, racism and branding of young bodies with signs and symbols of Australian nationalism, along with the reprisal attacks by Lebanese-Australian youth, continues to inflame discussions about race relations in Australia, with many conversations shifting away from ideas of multiculturalism and cultural diversity, and towards patriotism, localism, security and fear of the (predominantly) Muslim 'Other'. Battle for the Flag contextualises and challenges the narrative by drawing upon participant observation and interviews conducted with local residents of diverse backgrounds. By paying attention to the voices of bystanders and those involved, the riot is identified as an unstable and fluid formation, where the Australian flag, the beach and whiteness itself was co-opted into a much more contingent, contested and subcultural formation than hitherto described.
Dr Amelia Johns is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University. Her PhD research explored experiences of intercultural contact between youth in multicultural urban space, and how these encounters produce racism, intolerance and violent conflict alongside 'hybrid' identifications and expressions of belonging. Her work has been published in Continuum- Journal of Media and Culture, and will also be appearing in a forthcoming book, Critical Youth Studies for the 21st Century. Her current research reflects an interest in young people's experiences of new media as spaces where social and cultural identity, citizenship and experiences of embodiment are resituated and transformed. Her research in this area will be published in forthcoming issues of Fibreculture journal and Media International Australia.