Geography Reference
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League, which has had considerable influence on immigration policies and popular per-
ceptions of immigrants as threats to regional identities in the North.
Although immigrants from North and Sub-Saharan Africa currently comprise only
about 20 percent of foreign residents, Black and Arab migration hold considerable sym-
bolic valence within the logic of Italian North- South relations. The border between
Italy and the African continent remains a focal point in an intense and enduring debate
over space and identity. Reconstituted as the signifier of immigration, the Southern
maritime border is portrayed as a site of moral panic, where boat people clandestinely
enter Italian territory from North and Sub-Saharan Africa. 2 This border space has been
native Italians live and work. Such hyperbolic images signal a deep anxiety toward im-
migrants that can be observed in routine (quotidian) interactions in which individuals
are analytically associated with entire ethnic groups believed not to belong in Italy (see
Pred 2000).
The imagined border between Italy and Africa is, in fact, somewhat fictional. There
has been a constant flow and exchange between Europe and Africa beginning with me-
dieval 5th to the 15th centuries trans-Mediterranean trade routes and the interpenetra-
tion of ideas, people, values, and commodities. Colonial and postcolonial investments
have set the stage for the current immigration. North African and Sub-Saharan Afric-
an cultures have played a forgotten but constitutive role in shaping the heterogeneous
cultures of contemporary Italy (Pugliese 2008). Furthermore, today's migrants comprise
a surplus population whose labor has been vital to the country's economic prosperity
(Merrill 2011). However, over the past two decades, the Italian State has fortified the
material borders between Europe and Africa in a number of ways. In accordance with
European Unionguidelines onimmigration andrefugee policies, andmostpotential mi-
grants enter via air or land routes (Carter and Merrill 2007; Carter 2010). However, the
perception of an invasion of Italian territory by desperate Africans and Arabs seeking
illegal entry via porous maritime borders and for whom there can be no appropriate em-
by the Northern League whose political narratives are drawn from old racialized spatial
imaginaries of Southern Italy as an extension of Arab and African worlds.
While each of Italy's twenty regions maintains its own distinct cultural and historical
particularities, the Northern region of the Italian industrial triangle of Piedmont, Genoa,
and Lombardy and more recently from Valle d'Aosta to Veneto and into Central Italy
tinct from the “South” (Mezzogiorno) beginning in Rome. This North-South division
is perhaps more imagined than material, as thousands of southern Italians migrated for
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