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Homosexuals, “Muslims”, Women: who are the atopoi of the Italian Nation?

sara Garbagnoli
EHESS - Paris
sara Garbagnoli
EHESS - Paris
Open Panel

Abstract

Within the bills presented in the Italian parliament on the issue of “gay marriage”, we are witnessing the emergence of an intellectual device based on the mobilization of gender and race in a nationalistic key. At the core of these texts, a stand is taken against both any form of legal recognition of homosexual couples and the polygamous customs of “immigrants”. How are we to make sense of this logic of “expulsion” ? What do these intellectual devices tell us about the nature and functions of race and gender, these hierarchical classifications embodied by national institutions as well as by understanding categories of its members? What do they tell us about the nature of the Nation when considered as the place where specific socially guaranteed identities as well as legitimate groups and unions are defined? This paper will analyse few parliamentary proposals in order to provide some elements of a historically situated answer and to uncover efficient procedures about the ongoing renegotiations underlying the construction of a legitimate definition of family, citizenship and nationality. To achieve this goal, the paper will also present a study of the different uses of gender and race in various parliamentary bills and a statistical analysis of the social characteristics of the signatories of these texts. This analysis will aim at shedding light upon the activation of various strategies to ascribe minority status to target groups considered as a menace to the integrity of the national social corpus (white, catholic and heterosexual), which, while in denial of the great vertical disparities running through it, is only capable of finding cohesion in this oppositional role.