Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
into localism and nationalism, while multiculturalism has been countered by racism (Di
Maio 2009). As the International Labour Organization (ILO) has suggested, in the past
two decades in Italy there has been a sort of involution in terms of antiracism and egal-
itarian norms (ILO 2010). The Italian zeitgeist has changed, and a significant portion
of the population rejects antiracist norms. Populist rhetoric, often based on old preju-
dices and stereotypes, has returned to characterize public debates. Many no longer be-
Italians (Volpato et al. 2010). These attitudes are promoted by politicians currently in
power, as demonstrated in remarks made by the Italian Foreign Minister and member
of the European Parliament, Mario Borghezio, who following the July 2011 tragedies in
Norway said that the antimulticultural positions of Breivik, the perpetrator of the mass
murders, “Could certainly be agreed with,” and that the Oslo killings were “The fault
of multiracial society,” which he described as “disgusting” ( New York Times July 28,
2011). 10 Borghezio's Northern League (la Lega) promotes the idea of a pure and cultur-
ally homogenous territory under attack by ethnic and cultural pluralism.
As Tim Creswell has suggested, in the creation of place the definition of what lies
“outside” plays a critical role in defining what is “inside” (Creswell 2004). The Lega,
which has achieved growing influence, redefines Northern Italy as a culturally and ter-
People from Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa in particular are perceived as belonging
origins, “South of the South” (Huyseeune 2006). The Lega sees the northern River Po
basin of an imagined Padania as belonging to a Celtic-Germanic culture and European
Italy as opposed to the Greek-Latin culture of African Italy; that is, the Mezzogiorno
economy by self-consciously inventing a newly imagined community and manipulating
claims with definite borders. This discourse of ethnic absolutism has gained increasing
traction in replacing the Left/Right and class oppositions that dominated Italian politics
until the early 1990s with a strong sense of Insider or “Us” identity (Agnew and Brusa
1999). The Lega gained strength in the early 1990s in the wake of the political collapse
of the parties that had for decades been seen to defend industrial workers, the erosion of
racialized communitarian ways of life, and the tertiarization of the economy as against
what was seen as the corruption of the state and its Southern Italian public sector rep-
resentatives. But the party also endorses and promotes widespread prejudices against
“colored immigrants” (Cento Bull 1996, 179). Their exclusivist discourse is currently
aimed particularly toward “Arabs” and those with darker skin whom Umberto Bossi,
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