• From Strangers to Strangers: (Non)Migrant Encounters with Difference in Café Spaces

    Byeongsun Ahn
    Human geography, Urban geography
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    14th IMISCOE Annual Conference
    Conf. Org.:
    Conf. Loc.:
    Conf. Date:
    28 June 2017
    conviviality, multiculture, Paul Gilroy
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    In this paper, I revisit the concept of conviviality and its much-romanticized use in understanding encounters with difference in everyday urban life. In contrast to the tendency to privilege daily interaction with difference in semi-; public spaces as cohabitation of difference, or ‘indifference to difference’, I see that the concept overlooks the evident asymmetries of so-called prosaic negotiation of difference, as it fails to answer how individual experiences of so-called unremarkable difference at a micro-level can translate into group-experiences at a macro-level to the same degree. In critique of the concept that celebrates encounter with difference as an ordinary feature of urban multiculture, I stress that the individual moments of prosaic interaction shall not be mistaken as moments of cultural transgression, where cultural, ethnic, racial and/or religious differences become unruly and unremarkable. Rather, I argue that the concept, of which strength is said to do away with the patronizing principles of ‘European, white normativity’ fails to register how habitual encounters with others can go beyond individual moments into ‘respect for difference’. For this, I introduce my observations on encounters with difference in three café spaces in three different neighborhoods in Vienna, Austria to demonstrate whether low-level sociability witnessed among my participants from each site translates into a normative urban multiculture.
    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
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