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KATE DARIAN-SMITH is Professor of Australian Studies and History at University of Melbourne, President of the International Australian Studies Association who recently co-edited ‘Stirring Australian Speeches: A Definitive Collection from Botany to Bali’.
FETHI MANSOURI is chair of Middle Eastern studies and Deputy Director of 
the Centre for Citizenship and Human Rights at Deakin University whose recent research focuses on migration, cultural diversity and impacts of Australia’s temporary protection regime on individual refugees.


9 Feb 2007 photos Karen Trist

In one hour of waiting at the Fed Sq tram stop for the W-11 tram (it had been immobilized by a dangling wire on the tramways overhead wiring system) a bond had already been forged. Once aboard, two no-longer-quite strangers set off talking of the importance of shared spaces that do not have boundaries about who can and cannot access them. Such open, inclusive multicultural spaces provide an antedote to the seperation of social groups, where people have little exposure to each other, know little of each other and subsequently are more likely to call upon sterotypes to attempt to understand each other whilst harbouring suspicion. Moving through the crucial role that language plays to understanding culture, the lingering question of whether Australia is as Asia literate as it should be, and the nature of island nation states, the dialogue remained open and afloat. Are we back already! Perhaps it will continue in another voyage, as Kate just so happens to own a Melbourne W-class tram sitting on a bush block – bought in the 1980’s when they were no longer desired and going cheap.
09 Feb 2007 photos Karen Trist

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