A new generation of Black activists is currently seeking to assert itself, gain national visibility, combat Italian racism, and acquire legitimacy as Italians by birth who are also Black. Their efforts in turn raise challenging questions about the promises, limitations, and contradictions of national citizenship. How can Black Italians mobilize for citizenship when the Italian nation-state is a thoroughly racial formation? Where does global Black diasporic solidarity intersect with the politics of local or national belonging in Italy? Can Black Italians enact forms of Blackness that resist an all-too-easy incorporation into race-blind Italian Mediterraneanisms? In this talk, I focus on a set of productive tensions: the tension Black Italians encounter as they articulate the specificities of Black subjectivity (and anti-Black racism) in Italy in relation to 1) the myth of a supposedly “colorblind” Mediterranean Italy on the one hand; and 2) the overwhelming dominance of Black Atlantic geographies and North American understandings of race in conversations about Blackness on the other hand.
Camilla Hawthorne is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at University of California, Santa Cruz.
Sponsored by the French and Italian Graduate Student Association.