ENCOUNTERING THE MULTI-ETHNIC CITY: BORDERS

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ENCOUNTERING THE MULTI-ETHNIC CITY:
BORDERS, DESTABILISATION AND CONFLICT
Helen WILSON
University of Manchester, United Kingdom, [email protected]
All forms of encounter are about enchantment in one way or another. Encounters are
about small moments of hesitation or rupture that demand that one thinks about the
world differently. As such, encounters are also about unpredictability – about conflict
as much as they are about hybrid potential. Taking a concern with conflict forward,
this paper demonstrates how a theorisation of encounter as a particular ‘event of
relation’ can offer a way into a more critical reflection on borders, momentary
destabilisations and everyday practices of border-making. In order to intervene in
recent debates on the multi-ethnic city, the paper brings together work on more-thanhuman geographies, postcolonial writing, socio-cultural difference and urban
multiculture to examine why the notion of encounter carries such resonance within
geographical work. In so doing, the paper outlines the common threads that connect
these literatures together and demonstrates how these common threads can address
the questions of meaning and temporality that have emerged from recent research on
encounters. Tackling these questions, the paper argues, can provide a more
nuanced understanding of difference – and the experience of it – within work on
cities, ethnicities and conflict.
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