Institute of Criminology, Sydney

Lines in the Sand

The Cronulla Riots, Multiculturalism and National Belonging


On the infamous afternoon of Sunday 11 December 2005, a crowd of about 5000, mostly white, English-speaking background young men, went on a rampage at Sydney’s Cronulla beach attacking anyone of ‘Middle Eastern appearance’. The day had begun as a protest against what many saw as the unacceptable behaviour of some young men following a scuffle between off-duty lifesavers and a group of Lebanese men. Such incidents are not uncommon, yet rarely do they lead to large-scale, ethnically motivated violence in which people wrap themselves in the Australian flag.

Many Australians, used to seeing racial violence in other parts of the world, were shell-shocked. Yet the causes and consequences of the riots and the revenge attacks that ensued are still being debated. Did the riots reveal the ‘racist underbelly’ of Australian society? Did they demonstrate the failure of the multicultural experiment of the last 30 years? Were they yet another example of the contemporary problems of youthful masculinities? Were we seeing the resurgence of an ugly nationalism, spread by populist media?

In this provocative and insightful collection of essays, the authors examine these and other issues in the first major critical assessment of this significant moment in Australian history.

Table of Contents

List of Contributors
List of Illustrations
List of tables
‘Where the bloody hell are we?’ Multicultural manners in a world of hyperdiversity
Greg Noble

Part one: Making sense of the riots: contexts and perspective

Sydney’s Cronulla riots: the context and Implications
Jock Collins
Scouring the Shire
Scott Poynting
Riotous Sydney take three (Cronulla) Confessions of a beach survivor
Wendy Shaw

Part two: ‘We grew here, you flew here’: nation, ethnicities and belonging

Performing Australian nationalisms at Cronulla
Kevin M Dunn
‘The Muslims are our misfortune!’
Geoffrey Brahm Levey and A Dirk Moses
Australian bodies, Australian sands
Affrica Taylor
‘It’s just an attitude that you feel’: inter-ethnic habitus before the Cronulla riots
Amanda Wise
From Turko to Lebo: the Cronulla riot and the politics of Greekness
Andrew Lattas

Part three: Boys behaving badly? Gender, culture, territory

Masculinity, culture and urban power: the Cronulla conflicts and their amplification in popular media
Andrew Jakubowicz
‘The local boys’: violence, care, masculinity and the riots
Clifton Evers
Bikini vs Burqa’ in contemporary Australia: a feminist response to the Cronulla riots
Judy Lattas

Part four: In the wake of the riots: responses and repercussions

Law, policing and public order: the aftermath of Cronulla
Chris Cunneen
Generation, class and community leadership
Paul Tabar
Afterword: Zionists
Ghassan Hage


Of interest...