The face of the nation. Troubling the sameness-strangeness divide in the age of migration

2018-01-11T13:26:36Z (GMT) by Marco Antonsich
Over the last two decades, banal and everyday nationalism have been the main theoretical and methodological approaches for studying how nations are reproduced ‘from below’. The present article advances this literature by paying close attention to racially-differentiated subjects and, more precisely, to subjects who are perceived to look different from, but sound like the national majority group. Building on the feminist attention to the corporeal, I argue that face-to-face encounters with the simultaneous embodiment of (somatic) strangeness and (linguistic) sameness generate a sense of surprise which interrupts the reproduction of the nation. This, in turn, allows for the ‘troubling’ of the very identity category (nation) which both banal and everyday nationalism avoid interrogating directly. I support and illustrate this argument by focusing on the case of the children of migrants born and raised in Italy and their personal experiences in mundane settings. The article discusses the implications of this short circuit in the banal and everyday processes of national reproduction in terms of potential openings of the nation to more inclusive forms.