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Journal of Australian Studies 32:4 (December 2008); 509-20

Cultural capital and cultural diversity: some problems in
Ghassan Hage’s account of cosmopolitan multiculturalism

Scott Brook


Ghassan Hage’s account of Australian ‘cosmopolitan multiculturalism’ provided

an exemplary class critique of multiculturalism policy under the labor Hawke-

Keating governments (1983-1996), one which highlighted the fault lines along

which a popular backlash against multiculturalism later developed. However,

upon closer inspection the theoretical and ethnographic work behind the ‘cosmo-

multiculturalist’ thesis appears seriously flawed. This article revisits Hage’s mid-

1990s ethnography on Vietnamese restaurants in Cabramatta, a suburb in

Sydney’s south-west that has a significant number of Indo-Chinese residents and

businesses and is promoted by local government as ‘Australia’s most

multicultural suburb’. It argues Hage’s ethnography not only distorts the causality

of local tourism, but is unable to appreciate the mixed governmental rationales

that underpin local planning and the active participation of migrant associations in

this process. Furthermore, it is argued Hage’s notion of ‘cosmopolitan capital’ is

insufficiently Bourdieusian as it assumes the domination effects of cultural capital

are due to the commodity relations it enables, rather than being a consequence

of its unequal distribution and (therefore) its capacity to realise class-specific


social advantages. A brief review of one recent attempt to operationalise Hage’s

critique in Australian broadcasting policy further supports the conclusion that the

‘cosmo-multiculturalist’ thesis as it currently stands has limited value as an

explanatory tool and point of policy intervention.

Australian Multiculturalism after Labor
In Ghassan Hage’s various critiques of Australian multiculturalism the term

‘multiculturalism’ slides across levels of analysis, reflecting not only the different

domains of government policy in which questions of an ethnically diverse polity

are at stake, but also the different methodologies Hage has employed. Moving

between ethnographies based on participant observation and interviews, to

textual analysis of the rhetoric of media commentators, academics, politicians

and policy documents, Hage’s work is a strong example of cultural criticism; a

genre whose mix of ethical and political engagement, diverse intellectual

resources and popular pedagogy often sustains the role of public intellectual.1

Despite this eclecticism a central and arguably defining feature of Hage’s

methodology has been that questions of cultural diversity, whether at the level of

policy or ‘everyday practice’, are approached in relation to questions of class.

Hage regularly achieves this by constructing two sites of multicultural practice—

one working class, the other middle class—that are taken as exemplary of two

Ghassan Hage is currently listed at number eighteen on the Australian Public Intellectuals (API) Network
‘Top Forty’ list. Available on-line at
default&cID=16&PHPSESSID=&menuID=50 [Accessed 1/6/2008]


Annandale. NSW. For instance. Vocalising the agenda of ‘global multiculturalism’ thus. the prospect in this chapter is rather gloomy. Hage argues. 108-19. [E]very government around the world can be heard begging. and a rhetorical style that strongly testifies to this ambition. where all kinds of safe and domesticated otherness is available for consumption. ‘Please come here Mr Transcendental Capital. […] I can provide your multicultural workers with the […] grooviest coffee shops you can imagine. For a book with the subtitle ‘searching for hope in a shrinking society’. the best baristas and the best macchiatos. we might say the multiculturalism of cultural desire is here pitted against the multiculturalism of cultural survival.competing policy priorities. in the book chapter ‘The class aesthetics of global multiculturalism’ Hage contrasts an aestheticised global multiculturalism of the mobile professional and managerial classes. Against Paranoid Nationalism: Searching for hope in a shrinking society. I will offer them the most culturally diverse culinary scene possible[. 3 Hage. the value of a culturally diverse polity from the point of view of government is reduced to place-marketing. Pluto Press. Hage writes. nation-State orientated multiculturalism of working class migrants. 110-11 3 .2 Expressed as a conflict of competing ethical imperatives. please invest here in my very multicultural zoo-like city. As an aestheticised global multiculturalism of cosmopolitan consumption replaces the multiculturalism of migrants’ rights vis-a- vis the nation state. Against Paranoid Nationalism: Searching for hope in a shrinking society. against the localised.’]3 2 Ghassan Hage. 2003. equipped with the latest Italian coffee- machines.

and even less with the symbolic work of ‘home building’ 4 Ghassan Hage. Immigration: a Commitment to Australia. Refusing to accept Labor’s policies and programs of multiculturalism at face value—ie. 6 Hage. Ghassan Hage. 58-60. Communal/Plural. 113-37. ‘Republicanism. Ghassan Hage. ‘At home in the entrails of the west’ in Helen Grace. 99-153. Unlike the earlier welfare policy moment of the 1970s. and drawing on his earlier critique of the settler-colonial inheritances of multicultural policy as a continuing governmental discourse for managing non-Anglo-Celtic communities. Zoology’. 2. Against Paranoid Nationalism: Searching for hope in a shrinking society. in terms of a narrative of developmental progress in which enlightened values of inclusive diversity finally triumph over policies of assimilation and racially selective migration—Hage sought to highlight the less benign motives behind the pick-up of the term by a government committed to wide scale economic reform. Communal/Plural. Annandale. or ‘zoology’5. Julie Langsworth and Michael Symonds Home/world: Space. 63. no.Although clearly polemical. 150-51n33. community and marginality in Sydney’s west. 4. 1996. 41-77. Multiculturalism. otherwise known as the Fitzgerald Inquiry4. Hage coined the neologism ‘cosmo-multiculturalism’ to describe a policy moment in which Australians where inculcated within a celebratory and consumer relation to signifiers of ethnic authenticity. Pluto Press. 5 Ghassan Hage.6 ‘cosmo-multiculturalism’ under the late Hawke and Keating Labor governments had little to do with the needs of an ethnically diverse polity. Taking his cue from the use of the term ‘cosmopolitanism’ interchangeably with ‘multiculturalism’ in the 1988 federal government report. no. 1994. NSW. 4 . Leslie Johnson. Hage’s argument is anticipated by empirical research from the mid-1990s on Australian state-sponsored policies of multiculturalism under the Hawke and Keating governments (1983-1996). ‘Anglo-Celtics Today: Cosmo-multiculturalism and the phase of the fading phallus’.

Australia and the Northeast Asian Ascendancy: Report to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. 1989.7 Drawing on the critique of cultural taste developed by the sociologist Pierre migrant communities. and that such class practices could be redeemed as representing the national interest. Cambridge & Massachusetts. Although his ethnographic work in various suburbs of Sydney focused on the consumption of ethnic cuisine. but rather centralised a middle-class tourist subject for whom public displays of taste for ethnic difference evidence a form of ‘cosmopolitan capital’. from those who lack such ‘good taste’. film—in fact any activity in which a consumer seeks an experience of authentic ethnic difference. yet it put this embrace in the service of a new national self-image and a new national economy. translated by Richard Nice. Hage’s account therefore dovetailed well with the policy contexts of both the 1989 Garnaut Report. It could include fashion. 5 . Australia and the Northeast Asian Ascendancy.9 as well as the touting of international and domestic tourism during the 1980s as a solution to what Australian’s were being taught was their 7 Hage. 64. 1984. Harvard University Press. ‘cosmo-multiculturalism’ represented a more radical embrace of cultural difference than the earlier welfare policy moment.8 Hage suggested that the function of a cultivated taste for ethnic diversity resided in the cosmo- multiculturalist’s public display of social distance. this thesis was not limited to food. 8 Pierre Bourdieu. 9 Ross Garnaut. Canberra. or ‘distinction’. travel. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. a subset of cultural capital. Considered loosely as a policy moment. music. ‘Anglo-Celtics Today: Cosmo-multiculturalism and the phase of the fading phallus’. Commonwealth Government of Australia.

a moment Graham Turner has described as the ‘improbable enclosure of tourism within a national commercial project’. Hage wasn’t alone in drawing attention to this. 11 Nancy Viviani. however. Of course.10 In retrospect it is clear Hage’s account provided a strong account of what went wrong with the image of multiculturalism. Hage demonstrated how this move simultaneously provided the terms on which multiculturalism might be popularly perceived as ‘elitist’. the forms of class power their own position signaled in the media. 1996. or how their own morally exemplary performances helped fuel popular resentments against ‘multicultural 10 Graeme Turner. 1994. and how culturally backward opponents of multiculturalism were: yet few of these critics paused to consider how their rhetoric merged multiculturalism with globalisation. During the 1980s and 1990s there was no shortage of articulate liberal critics of popular anti-multiculturalism in the Australian media who were willing to testify how cultural diversity was good for the nation. The Indochinese in Australia 1975-1995: From Burnt Boats to Barbecues. 111. Oxford.vulnerable national economy. 148. provided a history and theory of the public spaces in which such elitism was performed. 6 . If the yoking together of multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism enabled relations between Anglo-Celtic and non-Anglo-Celtic Australians that were seriously patronising. Allen & Unwin. Sydney.11 Hage’s account. Oxford University Press. Sociologist Nancy Viviani would write in 1996 that ‘[t]he stress on cultural diversity at the expense of the concern with equality […] helped fuel the backlash against multiculturalism’. Making it National: Nationalism and Popular Australian Culture.

Although Hage’s account of these visitors as seekers of cosmopolitan distinction is entirely plausible. However. poverty and the past’.1:2. but focuses instead on the point of exchange between cosmopolitan tourists and their hosts. 13 Hage. 7 . Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. ‘At home in the entrails of the west’. I want to focus in detail on Hage’s ethnography on cosmopolitan visitors to the suburb of Cabramatta. before considering the way in which Hage’s account has been negotiated in an example of recent cultural policy. a situation in which the value of ethnic culture shifts from being a source of ‘home- building’ for migrant communities. 2000. I suggest it is under-developed is so far as Hage’s research does not demonstrate how such practices accumulate social advantages that are unavailable to those who lack cosmopolitan capital.elites’ that culminated in a spectacular backlash. one that sought to show how government policy was thoroughly aligned with middle-class practices of social distinction. This relation is presented as being between ‘consumers’ and ‘feeders’ of cultural difference. 219-32.13 This fieldwork was a key exhibit in the development of the ‘cosmo- multiculturalism thesis’.14 Hage’s fieldwork is further problematic in so far as it does not consider the well documented fact that local government in Cabramatta has 12 Meaghan Morris. ‘`Please explain?’ ignorance. then I want to suggest its utility for policy is less straightforward. to that of a commodity for non-migrant Australians.12 If Hage’s thesis on cosmopolitan multiculturalism has become an efficient means of accounting for the demise of bipartisan support for multiculturalism during this period. as Meaghan Morris has suggested.

applied theory of ‘cosmopolitan capital’ is distinctly different to Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital. 8 . community organisations and businesses whose presence has been rendered publicly 14 Hage. projects that have involved a range of stakeholders in pursuit of an equally diverse number of goals. In the face of this. To this end. Cabramatta also has a significant concentration of Indochinese Australian residents. 140. Hage’s research on the pursuit of cosmopolitan capital in Cabramatta appears not so much orientated by the goal of demonstrating its role in the reproduction of social advantages by and for a specific social class. it appears to be orientated by the goal of demonstrating a commodity relation in which ‘culture’ is alienated from its morally superior function of ‘home-building’. Hage’s. but an inability to appreciate the more mundane and routine objectives of those government programs for which questions of an ethnically diverse polity are at stake. ‘At home in the entrails of the west’. I argue.drawn upon Indochinese cultural identity as a resource in numerous tourism- orientated projects in cultural and urban planning.15 In search of the cosmo-multiculturalists Cabramatta is a suburb with high levels of ethnic and linguistic diversity in the Local Government Area of Fairfield in Sydney’s south west. rather. I suggest Hage’s complete exclusion of any reference to this history of policy development implies not only a ‘moral resistance’ to the notion that culture might form such a resource.

visible due to both regular moral panics in the media during the 1980s and 1990s associated with drugs and ‘Asian gangs’. the other on cultural maintenance—Hage used his research on Cabramatta’s Vietnamese restaurants to show how inner-city cosmo-multiculturalists don’t simply denigrate the south-western suburbs as less ‘multicultural’ (read: cosmopolitan) than they are. 1998. 17 Hage. one centred on cultural consumption. 16 Fairfield City Council. ‘At home in the entrails of the west’.gov. and boasts Cabramatta on its website as ‘the most multicultural suburb in Australia’. but also. http://wwwfairfield. and even more perversely. Annandale NSW. the interviews were with local restaurant patrons. Fairfield City Council invests a great deal of effort in promoting the cultural diversity of the area. and the multiculturalism of everyday migrant home-making in Sydney’s western and south-western suburbs. patrons who traveled to Cabramatta from Sydney’s inner suburbs for its 15 I should point out my comments are restricted to a reading of the notion of ‘cosmopolitan capital’ and do not attempt to cover Hage’s much broader concept of ‘national capital’ as developed in White Nation: Fantasies of White supremacy in a multicultural society. as well as vigorous urban tourism initiatives since the 1980s which continue today with the promotional tag: ‘Discover Cabramatta: A Taste of Asia’.nsw. 9 .16 In Hage’s discussion of his fieldwork Cabramatta functions as a mediating point between the middle-class. despite the fact that more migrant Australians live there. travel to the south-western suburbs to enjoy ‘authentic’ ethnic cuisine.17 Playing these two lived relations to cultural diversity off against each other—one cosmopolitan. Pluto [Accessed 1/6/2008]. consumerist and predominantly Anglo-Celtic multiculturalism of inner city Sydney. In the case of Cabramatta. the other migrant.

‘At home in the entrails of the west’. the development of Cabramatta as a tourist destination is represented as an effect of the desire of tourist-consumers. Hage’s account however is problematic for two reasons. The Cabramatta fieldwork was limited to interviews concerning the behaviour and interactions of restaurant customers and their hosts and therefore didn’t consider the history of urban planning and municipal promotion in Fairfield. ‘Rethinking ethnic concentration: the case of Cabramatta. The first is empirical. nor the distinct local rationales for these projects. Kevin M. like any good ‘Third World’ tourist spot outside of the touristic circuit. 228-45.’18 However. or island of adjustment and participation?’. 4:2. 153-65.perceived authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Kevin M. Australian Geographical Studies 31:2. his conclusion is in stark contrast to the history of Cabramatta tourism presented by cultural geographer Kevin Dunn. Hage argues ‘Cabramatta is not cosmo-multicultural by design … Cabramatta. 143. ‘The Vietnamese concentration in Cabramatta: site of avoidance and deprivation. 35:3. Social & Cultural Geography. March 1998. rather than the managed result of town planning. 1993. Urban Studies. apart from the claims made by the Cabramatta culinary tourists he interviews.19 Dunn notes that from the late 1980s domestic 18 Hage. Hage puts forward no evidence of this. Dunn. Dunn. 503-25. ‘Using cultural geography to engage contested constructions of ethnicity and citizenship in Sydney’. Dunn. was ‘discovered’ by the adventurers of the centre playing the colonial explorer game. Furthermore. 10 . This leads to a serious error in Hage’s account of the history of local tourism and the agency of local businesses and community organisations in this process. 19 Kevin M. Although Hage acknowledges the tactics of Vietnamese restaurant owners in attracting their cosmopolitan patrons. as well as the staff and owners of the Vietnamese restaurants studied. Sydney’. 2003.

20 Such place- making projects have been founded on the hope that negative press associating the area with crime and drugs21—which Cabramatta locals. Freedom Plaza in the heart of Cabramatta’s CBD incorporates multiple functions. Sydney Morning Herald. CCT surveillance. Lao and Khmer community associations. 7-49. 2000. ‘Racism in the news: a critical discourse analysis of news reporting in two Australian news papers’. Vietnamese. community-based heritage. including street-beautification. In the mid-1980s local businesses and cultural associations formed the Cabramatta Pai Lau Beautification Association which from 1986 onwards was responsible for organising annual Lunar New Year festivities. Sydney’. Completed in 1989 and funded by numerous business and community groups both locally and throughout New South Wales. as well as a form of ‘place-making’ that has significance for local migrant communities. This group organised the construction of the Pai Lau gateway—the centerpiece of Freedom Plaza in Cabramatta’s central business district—as well as numerous stone sculptures of animals from the Chinese zodiac. 11:1. Discourse and Society. regarded as a significant contributor to the local drug trade through attracting heroin users22—will be replaced by tourists and shoppers. tourist attraction. including Chinese. 22 Christopher Kremmer. and the government of Taiwan. 21 Peter Teo. reportedly. 11 .tourism has been touted by a range of local agents as a way of combining a positive image campaign with local economic development. ‘Generation V’. and most recently. ‘Rethinking ethnic concentration: the case of Cabramatta. the heritage listed Pai Lau gateway was built—according to Fairfield’s heritage audio tour—‘as a symbol of harmony and multiculturalism’. 20 Dunn. 30 April 2005.

12 .24 Such urban developments accompanied the Cabramatta Tourist Association’s promotion of Cabramatta during the late 1980s with pamphlets and bumper stickers with titles such as ‘Visit the new face of Cabramatta’. and slogans such as ‘Cabramatta: where East meets West’. 1990s tourism initiatives pursued or supported by Fairfield City Council have included commissioned documentaries. as ‘a monument to democracy and freedom. The regional political significance of these words is deliberate.asp?iDocID=6771&iNavCatID=213&iSubCatID=2258 [Accessed 5/10/2007] 24 Dunn.fairfieldcity. virtual tours on compact disc. The secretary of the Association commented that they were overt attempts to compete with Chinatown in inner Sydney.and.nsw. above all. Dunn notes that ‘[l]ike the beautification works.’23 Bold letters spell out the words ‘liberty’ and ‘democracy’ in Chinese. In the early 1990s Dunn interviewed many of the office bearers of the Pai Lau association and notes they revealed an awareness of the strategic nature of these icons. 160. these public relations initiatives have a ring of Orientalism 23 'Tune in to Fairfield: a multicultural driving tour’. Vietnamese. The tour notes the gate was also designed to challenge popular perceptions that Chinese and Indochinese refugees had come to Australia as economic refugees. and that these were public relations and tourism-orientated initiatives. Khmer. Audio tour notes available at http://www. Lao and English. and food ‘Using cultural geography to engage contested constructions of ethnicity and citizenship in Sydney’.au/default. produced by Fairfield City Council in partnership with the Migration Heritage Centre and Premier’s Department NSW.

‘Using cultural geography to engage contested constructions of ethnicity and citizenship in Sydney’. therefore. ‘Rethinking ethnic concentration: the case of Cabramatta. 26 Dunn.about them.27 I do not draw attention to this history in order to claim such urban and cultural planning projects have been successful in terms of their objectives.26 Dunn also notes. that there were many agents and agendas involved. ‘Using cultural geography to engage contested constructions of ethnicity and citizenship in Sydney’. 160. Hage overlooks the specific context in which local tourism was touted as a solution to a range of problems. 13 . constructing the suburb as the ‘Exotic East’’. However. While these are not the immediate topic of Hage’s ethnography. 160. their complete exclusion from Hage’s account does suggest a substantial resistance to the notion ‘migrant culture’ might be linked to the commodity relations of tourism. however. the extra-economic uses to which ‘culture’ was being put. I do suggest they too constitute the field in which cosmopolitan practices are played-out. and. and that the Asia-themed promotions of Cabramatta were often pursued by Fairfield City Council beyond the initiatives of community groups and associations. 25 He also suggests that however much economically motivated. Dunn’s research sought to develop a case against governmental migrant resettlement policies that pathologised ethnic 25 Dunn. 13. 27 Dunn. or that the effects of such ‘orientalist’ strategies are benign. and that their local policy rationales cannot be read-off from the broader cosmo- multiculturalist thesis. In ignoring the role of tourism in urban planning. these ‘‘positive stereotypes’ were strategic political devices in the representational battles faced by these communities’. For his part. Sydney’.

‘At home in the entrails of the west’.concentrations. beginning with the family. or island of adjustment and participation?’. Hage does not leave room for thinking cosmopolitan cultural capital affirmatively. 241-258. cosmopolitan capital (which he also glosses as ‘touristic capital’29) is problematic in and of itself as it sustains a market for ethnic culture. New York. through the 28 Dunn. in John G. including. economic participation. 29 Hage. Greenwood Press. extending through education and into the domain of everyday consumption. policies which Dunn shows had during the 1980s developed migrant dispersion programs in order to assuage popular majority fears of unassimilated ethnic ‘ghettos’. Richardson (ed. 101. ‘The Vietnamese concentration in Cabramatta: site of avoidance and deprivation. 14 . Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. such as knowing what to talk about across a wide range of social contexts. which concerns his use of the concept of cultural capital. 30 Pierre Bourdieu.30 Such capacities might reflect highly institutionalised practices—such as the ability to play a musical instrument—or more subtle forms of ‘sensibility’.28 That Hage cannot consider tourism affirmatively relates to a second and far more serious problem. For unlike Pierre Bourdieu’s account. crucially. ‘The Forms of Capital’. were beneficial to migrant resettlement and by no means prevented migrant communities from broader social participation. For Hage. 1986. embodied cultural capital at a basic level is an index of a person’s capacities that have been built-up by various forms of implicit and explicit training. According to Bourdieu’s most programmatic statement. Cultural capital brings advantages to its holders as it is the basis of further acquisition of cultural capital (for instance. Dunn’s work sought to produce empirical evidence that sites of ethnic concentration.). such as Cabramatta.

And it is because cultural capital is unequally distributed that it can cater for games of distinction that assist in the reproduction of social class. for Bourdieu. not least concerning its assumptions concerning the universal value of European aesthetic culture. To follow Bourdieu. 240. To give an example: that some Australians might use their capacity to appreciate ‘high’ cultural forms to produce social distance from people from other social classes who do not have this capacity was not to be countered by overturning the scales of cultural legitimacy upon which they were erected (so that. for system) and can also be ‘converted’ into symbolic capital (recognition). ‘The historical universal: the role of cultural value in the historical sociology of Pierre Bourdieu’. 239-44. that had achieved ‘aesthetic autonomy’ and thereby could support the cultivated practice of disinterested taste. and in the words of Tony Bennett. 2006. 15:2/3. Cultural Trends. arts funding bodies might regard Heavy Metal music as equally worthy of funding as chamber music). ‘Cultural Capital and Inequality: Refining the Policy Calculus’.32 In any case. Hage’s use of cultural capital 31 Tony Bennett. through an intervention in its distribution. 15 . See Tony Bennett. ‘withdrawn from the ‘game of distinction’’. 32 My reading of Bourdieu here has been greatly assisted by Tony Bennett’s recent essay that dispels the myth that Bourdieu was a cultural relativist.31 For Bourdieu this was best achieved through state education. however. The British Journal of Sociology 56:1. Bourdieu’s solution raises its own problems. 141-64. would be to maintain the possibility that cultural capital can be. 2005. such as classical music. Rather. Of course. this situation was to be addressed by expanding public education so that everyone might possess the means of appropriating those ‘cultural fields’. social capital (social contacts and networks) and economic capital (financial capital).

for example. as a form of multicultural citizenship education in schools. ‘At home in the entrails of the west’. 16 . Hage takes up the far less negotiable position that economic exchanges fundamentally compromise cultural diversity policy through sustaining relations between ‘consumers’ and ‘feeders’ of cultural is clearly different from Bourdieu’s. nor that their imagined experience of ‘discovering’ Cabramatta is central to these claims. I am not here contesting Hage’s research that shows cosmopolitan visitors to Cabramatta make claims to social distinction. It does not attempt to clear a space in which to consider how the class-specific practices of cosmopolitans are an index of unequally distributed capacities that could be inculcated in the general population. Rather. These research findings can both be upheld. Hage stakes out opposition to the idea that multicultural policy might work with the kinds of market exchanges that permit the cosmopolitan’s tourist itinerary in the first place. I am suggesting Hage’s research on cosmopolitan capital is insufficiently Bourdieusian as it (1) does not demonstrate the domination effects of these claims to distinction. Rather.33 Let me summarise the argument so far. and (2) 33 Hage. which would require research on the forms of social advantage that accrue to holders of cosmopolitan capital on the basis of these claims. Furthermore. it is not that economic exchanges are insufficient as a means of mediating the process by which the general population experiences itself as a culturally diverse polity (which is a plausible critique of those forms of neo-liberal ideology that aspire to delete any role for government beyond economic management). 140.

but appears to attribute a special status to ethnography as of higher cognitive value than those more bureau-based (dare I say ‘bureaucratic’) modes of intellectual work. ‘cosmopolitan capital’ is problematic because it reproduces a market relation between cosmopolitan consumers and ethnic feeders (which Hage’s research does demonstrate). namely Dean MacCannell’s The Tourist: a new theory of the leisure class. These have encouraged me to clarify the limits of my argument and more fully acknowledge those findings of Hage’s research that are outside its scope. such as paying close attention to the details of published reports and applied methodology. a relation in which ‘culture’ becomes a commodity at the expense of its more morally acceptable function of ‘home-building’. 1989. the modern tourist is a deeply ambivalent figure. ‘cosmopolitan capital’ is not problematic because it delivers social advantages to its holders that are unavailable to others due to its restricted circulation (which Hage’s research does not seek to demonstrate). However. The Tourist: a new theory of the Leisure Class. Schocken Books.35 For MacCannell.34 Considered as a form of ‘tourism critique’. Hage’s account hence becomes an easy target for a classic study in tourism studies.cannot consider cosmopolitan capital neutrally as a capacity that only becomes a source of distinction due to its unequal distribution. Of course. However. as well as raising questions of how research findings are coordinated with the action of government agencies. New York. rather. this reader emphasised a central objection that I cannot accept. namely. For Hage. as a criterion by which to assess the worthiness of contributions to debates in this area. 17 . [1976]. it is beyond dispute that fieldwork is crucial to the advance of research on cultural diversity and cultural capital. This not only diminishes the possibility research might be accumulative and divided between specialised functions. While their attempt to experience authentic 34 I must thank an anonymous reader of an earlier version of this paper for both an extended critical response to my discussion of Cabramatta tourism and a spirited defence of Hage’s research there. 35 Dean MacCannell. this criticism would imply methodological discussions have no validity of their own and/or can only be broached when the speaker has cultivated the authority that comes with fieldwork. that I rely on secondary sources and report no ethnographic findings of my own.

A professional from inner Sydney who was interviewed for the research on why he travelled to Cabramatta for its restaurants. It is for this reason MacCannell claims ‘[t]he modern critique of tourists [ie. so that instead of presenting 36 MacCannell. the motivation for this quest is not an appetite for social distinction. that motivates the cosmopolitans he studies. In this the tourist’s search for knowledge both prefigures the social sciences. Accordingly. as well as holds out the potential that the practices of tourism can be redeployed as ‘community planning’. one can hear a nascent form of Hage’s critique in the statements of one Cabramatta restaurant customer he quotes. 10. states. but rather the quintessentially Modern need to recuperate the disorientating and alienating experience of limitless social differentiation for a sense of the world as fundamentally explicable. I would like to see perhaps a lot less meat in traditionally non-meat cultures such as Indian and Japanese.’36 Indeed. MacCannell’s argument here would focus on how Hage’s technique of contrasting the tourist’s experience of commoditised cultural difference with the domestic scene of migrant homemaking is itself anticipated by the very same desire for authenticity. 18 .difference places them at the vanguard of many of the negative effects of Modernity. including anthropology. the only way of interrupting the touristic desire for authenticity is to stop regarding tourism as an inauthentic relation that needs to be transcended. and the very same desire to escape the scene of social planning. The Tourist: a new theory of the Leisure Class. ‘anti-tourism’] is not an analytic reflection on the problem of tourism—it is part of the problem.

I’m not sure it’s possible here to separate Hage’s moral critique from that of the interviewed subject. except for the fact that the interviewee is speaking in the context of being asked to reflect on their tastes in restaurant cuisine. Indeed. This statement is clearly strong evidence in support of Hage’s account. we also have to consider the possibility that this interviewee would entirely agree with Hage’s thesis on cosmo-multiculturalism and in fact shares the value Hage places on those forms of migrant home- making that are not orientated towards the Other in a commercial exchange (‘exploited labour’) or associated with a government policy (‘multiculturalism’). and Hage. 19 . ‘At home in the entrails of the west’. However. freely providing the anthropologist with their wish-list of authentic ethnic cuisine. and I’d like to see it divorced from the concept of multiculturalism a little more and presented as a community activity by ethnic communities feeding themselves rather than as something that Australians can cash in on. 140. Emphasis added. there is nothing wrong about opposing the use of ‘culture’ as an economic resource on grounds of moral or political principle. the practical limitation of this position is that it cannot appreciate the mixed agendas 37 Hage. is not. Cosmopolitanism and cultural policy Of course. the anthropologist-critic. us with Australianised food they actually present the real food. Regarding the second half of the quotation however.37 Here we can see the cosmo-multiculturalist in all their glory. Exploited labour as making food for us.

505-16. See his ‘Rationalization and the Public Sphere’. following Ian Hunter.and domains of local government. the instrumental value of Hage’s critique of cosmo-multiculturalism would be pedagogic rather than cognitive in so far as it enables the moral value of different uses of culture to be played-off against one another.38 Considered thus. The significance of multiculturalism for curriculum development at all levels of the education system can hardly be overstated and constitutes a highly dispersed field of policy development with its own distinctive and enduring rationales. A neat conclusion here would be to suggest. such as urban and cultural planning. 513. Macmillan. 51:3. Given this. it would appear to restrict discussion to a mode of political critique whose main rhetorical effect would be moral denunciation. 39 It is hard to avoid being persuaded by Hunter’s historical account of the exemplary role of cultural critique even if the sarcasm that often accompanied this argument detracted from Hunter’s claim to appreciate those mundane and routine aspects of the teaching apparatus that are overlooked by overly ‘profound’ approaches. The dissemination of Hage’s work in this field is clearly outside the scope of this article. London. 1988. 1992.39 However a recent attempt to operationalise Hage’s 38 Ian Hunter. John Frow has noted the discrepancy between Hunter’s ‘in principle’ assumption of the validity of critique as a pedagogically orientated mode of ethical self-formation and his tendency to speak of it as ‘narcissistic. but also detracts attention from the varied agendas of non-government agents who make use of this terrain. which routinely factor in the priorities of local economies and are fairly impervious to reflex condemnations of this. 20 . Opposition to the idea ‘culture’ might be viewed as a resource not only prevents critics from attending to the details of governmental reform or identifying points where engagement is possible. Culture and Government: the emergence of literary education. that the practical site of application for Hage’s critique would be the classroom. Meanjin. where the idea and ideal of culture as a ‘whole way of life’ works as a pedagogic tool through which students might problematise their relations to cultural diversity as a form of ethical training. dilettantish and therefore trivial’.

which is glossed as ‘an openness to cultural diversity. Vietnamese and Lebanese) and an Aboriginal sample group. a 40 Ien Ang. ‘People Mixing: Everyday Diversity in Work and Play’. the report of a questionnaire that surveyed a national sample group. In his contribution to the report.critique in a policy context makes such a conclusion unsustainable. and ‘cultural insularity’ on the other. Artarmon. Greg Noble and Derek Wilding. Jeffrey E. ‘Long time Australians’ were a majority subgroup of the national sample defined as fourth-generation (or more) Australians. All respondents were above the age of 21 . with a focus on generational changes amongst non-English speaking background migrant groups and ‘long time Australians’. Brand. NSW. ‘Everyday cosmopolitanism’. Living Diversity: Australia’s Multicultural Future. 406 Filipinos: 401 Greeks: 400 Lebanese: 401 Somalis: 400 Vietnamese: and 56 Aboriginal people. five non-English speaking background groups (Filipino. Greg Noble introduces the term ‘everyday cosmopolitanism’ to signal a positive difference from both the ‘elite cosmopolitanism’ Hage had proposed on one side. but not exclusively so. This group were predominantly Anglo-Celtic. 41 SBS’s charter requires the public broadcaster to reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity of Australia and the research was commissioned by the SBS Board to address several questions relating to general attitudes towards cultural diversity. In 2002 Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) published Living Diversity: Australia’s Multicultural Future40. Greek. ‘diversity in everyday life’ (such as interacting with people from diverse backgrounds). and media consumption. 41 The National sample group (1437 respondents) included both ‘long time Australians’ and 1st generation migrant Australians. Special Broadcasting Service Corporation (SBS). Somalis. 2002. The other sample group sizes were as follows.

Living Diversity: Australia’s Multicultural Future. yet having ‘relatively little direct intercultural contact’. 44 Ang et al. 37.46 However. 40. 43 Ang et al. the fact that ‘culinary cosmopolitanism’ is ‘very much a mainstream practice’. Living Diversity: Australia’s Multicultural Future. glossed (after Hage) as a ‘multiculturalism without migrants’.practical relation to the plurality of cultures. 22 . Living Diversity: Australia’s Multicultural Future. 67-74. 34. For more information on the sample groups see Ang et al. Living Diversity: Australia’s Multicultural Future.44 Here. (with 72% of the national sample saying they ‘enjoy eating food from other countries’45) becomes a site of potential concern. Living Diversity: Australia’s Multicultural Future. people who consume exotic differences but have relatively little direct intercultural contact. 37. 46 Ang et al. First. ‘At home in the entrails of the west’. The reference is to Hage. 42 Ang et al. While long-time Australians are more likely to enjoy the cultural variety of foods in Australia. Living Diversity: Australia’s Multicultural Future. 45 Ang et al. a key finding of the chapter is that ‘Australians from all backgrounds experience everyday cosmopolitanism’ and that this ‘helps explain the generally positive views towards Australia’s multiculturalism and cultural diversity which this Report describes’. 6. this is evidence for the ‘multiculturalism without migrants’ Hage (1997) describes: that is. as a plausible explanation for those long time Australians the report identifies as enjoying culturally diverse food. a willingness to engage with others’42 is to be encouraged: indeed. there are three strong reasons why this conclusion is contestable in relation to the data that is presented. the chapter does cite Hage’s cosmopolitan multiculturalism. the report notes it is ‘statistically logical for ethnic minorities to experience greater intercultural 16 at the time of the survey.43 However.

49 What the finding most likely indicates is that with the advent of increasingly globalised industries of food production and distribution and the rise of powerful new forms of food marketing. 30. What it refers to is the far more ubiquitous category of ‘enjoying foods from other cultures’. eating food from one’s own culture plays an important role in the migration process. not simply any form of consumption that involves culturally diverse content. or searching for ingredients in grocery stores that specialize in such foods. 23 . Yet the survey instrument cited by the report does not refer to conspicuous forms of cosmopolitan practice—such as eating in restaurants that serve food from a different country than your own.workplace contact with people of other cultural backgrounds than members of the English-speaking background majority’. the report also suggests that the reason ethnic minorities are less inclined to value culturally diverse foods compared to long time Australians may be because. Living Diversity: Australia’s Multicultural Future.47 This is one factor that would contribute to ‘long time Australians’ having a substantially lower measure of culturally diverse social interaction. for ethnic minorities. Second.48 Third. inherited relation to such foods. 48 Ang et al. different types of cuisine have become available to the general population and acceptable to those sections of the population who do not have a traditional. 31. owning cookbooks about foods that come from other countries. Hage’s ‘multiculturalism without migrants’ thesis refers to practices that enable cosmopolitan distinction. What this might be taken to suggest is that the opportunity to access a range of culturally diverse food (from 47 Ang et al. Living Diversity: Australia’s Multicultural Future.

It flags a possible relation to government subsidised culture that the agent behind the report (SBS) might monitor in future. Cambridge University Press. 234-35. Michael Emmison and John Frow. 38. Accounting for Tastes: Australian Everyday Cultures. if by this we mean the pursuit of cosmopolitan distinction. Living Diversity: Australia’s Multicultural Future 31. the signpost works because it is detached from Hage’s moral 49 Ang et al. 24 . namely ‘older groups and those with lower levels of education’.51 However. fast-food franchises and convenience stores no less than restaurants) far exceeds. it makes sense for this policy document to signpost the nexus of class and cosmopolitanism as something to be concerned about. (p.supermarkets. This measure is also referred to in the text as ‘enjoying food from other countries’. 50 Ang et al. as the report suggests. Given that a national survey undertaken in the mid-1990s demonstrated that a taste for watching Australia’s two public television broadcasters correlated positively with both higher incomes and occupations requiring tertiary qualifications. This situation is hardly evidence of the ‘multiculturalism without migrants’ Hage diagnoses. 30). This is further supported by the fact that the more problematic sub-population of ‘long time Australians’ the report identifies consists of those who lack cosmopolitanism and to whom SBS should target their services. 51 Tony Bennett. what it clearly does do is act as a ‘critical signpost’ for policy discussion.50 Although I think it is correct to be skeptical that Hage’s argument holds any explanatory import here. Living Diversity: Australia’s Multicultural Future. for long time Australians. Cambridge. the opportunity to socially interact with people from different cultural backgrounds.

as Hage calls for. This isn’t to eclipse a commitment to equity- orientated government programs that address the needs of migrant communities. the proposed policy solution to the disjunction between ‘enjoying foods from different cultures’ and low level of ‘intercultural contact’ in the long time Australian population is that SBS should consider focusing its efforts on older and less well educated ‘long time Australians’. It is simply to say a commitment to multiculturalism (and its critique) is not well served by refusing to consider ‘culture’ as a resource that is managed for a range of purposes and effects. nor to argue against a principled appeal for the maintenance of such programs. 25 . it then identifies the group in which ‘cosmopolitan capital’ needs to be built-up. acknowledging it may also be economically and politically productive for particular migrant groups (as in the case of cultural tourism) or a resource capable of building up nationally valued ethical capacities in citizens (as in the case of public broadcasting policy) allows us to take it seriously as a means of ‘distributing hope’.position. Just as the report introduces the notion of ‘everyday cosmopolitanism’ as a way to reconceive the field of practices around cultural diversity as non-elitist. Whatever we might think about cosmopolitanism as a lived ethical relation. As we might expect. And it certainly isn’t to suggest that the pursuit of cosmopolitan capital by certain groups who may thereby secure class-based advantages is not a cause for potential concern and further research.