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Darwin after dark: illuminating suburban atmospheres
Abstract: In Australian cities, culturally diverse suburban landscapes are often sensed as discomforting sites of fear and anxiety, particularly after dark. Imagined risks of encounters with bodies of colour easily policed during the day when vision is clear, but who escape biopolitical regimes of securitisation and surveillance at night contribute to such atmospheric qualities of place. These affective atmospheres of fear and anxiety that haunt bodies and limit their ability to inhabit public space, however, can provide a sense of freedom for bodies who claim suburban spaces of darkness through tactile and sonic senses. This paper draws on the contemporary literature on affective atmospheres to show how racialised Indigenous and asylum seeker bodies become present in different ways in suburban places in Darwin after dark. The paper focuses on two events – spontaneous dancing to Indigenous music at Mindil beach market and a Vigil commemorating asylum seeker lives in a suburban courtyard. Drawing on ethnographic research I explore these affective intervention that illuminate dark suburban atmospheres in Darwin. Such interventions that draw attention to the attunement of bodies to difference unsettle biopolitical regimes that victimise and patronise visible non-white bodies and contribute to rethinking racism and darkness in suburban Darwin and the Top End.