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The Black Lives Matter Movement in Italy: Diffusion, Organization, and Resonance

Social Movements
Race
Protests
Anna Lavizzari
Scuola Normale Superiore
Donatella della Porta
Scuola Normale Superiore
Anna Lavizzari
Scuola Normale Superiore

Abstract

Following the death of Afro-American citizen George Floyd on May 25, 2020, a wave of protests and reactions by movements organizations and single individuals spread across continents and countries. Inspired by the actions of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, a series of protest events followed in Europe as well in the summer of 2020. In Italy, the protest wave was significant, with almost 150 events, showing variation in terms of geographical distribution across the territory – from small cities and villages to big cities and metropoles – forms of the events given the pandemic restrictions, and the composite nature of organizations involved. The case of the antiracist protests within the framework of the Black Lives Matter movement campaign in Italy provides important insights on the form and scope in which the protests took place and notably on how different claims and strategies have been adapted from the original movement in the United States to the Italian national context. Based on protest event analysis, in-depth interviews with Italian local activists, and qualitative content analysis of national newspapers, the paper analyses processes of diffusion, organization, and resonance of the Black Lives Matter movement campaign in Italy. In particular, it investigates the diffusion, forms, resonance of the June 2020 protest events, the organizational structure of the groups born after the protests, their frames, networks and alliances, considering three main questions. First, how does the Black Lives Matter global wave of protest fits in the local context of the antiracist movement in Italy (i.e. localization of frames, relations with pro-refugee, pro-migrant groups, specificities of the local context)? Second, in linking the recent wave of protest with the history of the antiracist movement in the country, to what extent does it represent a critical juncture in the development of the movement? Third, how has the Black Lives Matter protest campaign in Italy been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic? The paper contributes to the literature on changing dynamics of movement organizing, in particular of new antiracist organizations, and the structural conditions shaping their forms, through the case of Black Lives Matter movement campaign in Italy.