The diverse geographies of mixed-ethnicity couples



Publication Details

Tindale, A. & Klocker, N. (2018). The diverse geographies of mixed-ethnicity couples. Environment and Planning A, 50 (1), 194-213.


The geographical distribution of mixed-ethnicity (or mixed-race) couples is an important indicator of the spatial dimensions of cultural 'mixing' in a given society. A small number of studies have mapped the residential geographies of mixed-ethnicity couples, revealing distinctive residential patterns that differ from those of each partner's respective ethnic group. Most such analyses have adopted broad pan-ethnic or racial categories (e.g. 'black-white', 'white-Asian'). The Australian Census - which eschews broad racial categories - provides an opportunity to explore the unique residential geographies of different 'types' of mixed-ethnicity couples. Using customised 2011 Census data, this paper maps the residential geographies of diverse mixed-ethnicity couples in Australia's most populous cities: Sydney and Melbourne. We focus on couples where one partner nominated 'Anglo-European' ancestry and the other nominated one of five 'minority' ancestries. Our findings highlight the value in disaggregating the coarse pan-ethnic or racial groupings adopted in some existing studies, and prescribed in some national censuses. The residential geographies of mixed-ethnicity couples challenge established perspectives on urban ethnic landscapes. As these couples grow in number, particularly in immigrant societies, they have the potential to fundamentally reshape established ethnic residential geographies away from patterns of residential segregation. Fine-grained analyses such as ours provide scope to explore the myriad directions in which these shifts will unfurl. They also provide a starting point for better understanding the preferences and pressures that shape the residential geographies of diverse mixed-ethnicity couples.

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