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Buddhas of Suburbia: faith, migration and suburban change in London

zclfg5811 March 2014

If there’s one thing to take home from American film culture, from The Virgin Suicides to American Beauty, it’s that the suburbs are a place to be avoided at all costs. Replete with murderous instincts and repressed sexual desires, they are to be treated with scorn by urbanites and the few suburban refugees who manage to escape.

Hindu goddess in gold at the Shri Kanaga Thurkkai Amman Hindu Temple

Hindu goddess

Perhaps this unfair reputation stems from the suburban aesthetic: when the soul is furnished by identikit architecture that presumably houses conservative cultural habits, it is unsurprising that we see the suburban subject as living a boring life, unworthy of academic reflection or investigation.

In her Lunch Hour Lecture, Dr. Claire Dwyer (UCL Geography) rescued suburbia from this prejudicial inertia, demonstrating through an architectural, geographical and cultural comparative analysis of faith loci in Greater London that the suburbs can be a place of dynamic modernity where space is contested, deconstructed and re-mapped.

The first half of Dr. Dwyer’s lecture focused on newly developed or proposed institutions such as the Jain Temple in Potter’s Bar, Hertfordshire and the Salaam Centre in Harrow, which show how the suburbs are on the forefront of cultural innovation. (more…)

Has multiculturalism failed?

news editor17 December 2012

Written by Daniel Bowman, UCL Union Debating Society committee member.

In an increasingly globalised world, how do we balance national and multiple identities? It is one of the most fundamental questions for the 21st century society.

Bonnie Greer

Bonnie Greer

The national debate on multiculturalism reached unprecedented levels of intensity when, in 2011, David Cameron announced in a speech that the “state multiculturalism” had failed, and that Britain needed a stronger national identity. The UCLU Debating Society was honoured to host an exceptional panel on 10 December to debate whether it has, indeed, failed.

Arguing that multiculturalism has failed were Nazir Azfal OBE, the Chief Prosecutor of the North West for the Crown Prosecution Service; Ayub Hanif, a UCL doctoral student and former president of the Debating Society; and Kenan Malik, the writer, lecturer and broadcaster.

(more…)