Living in diversity: going beyond the local/national divide
journal contributionposted on 07.12.2017, 11:35 by Marco Antonsich
As contemporary societies are undergoing a demographic change, spurred in great part by international immigration, living in diversity continues to remain a topical issue. Moving away from the nation, considered as a site of discrimination and exclusion, geographers and social scientist more broadly have focused on alternative socio-spatial formations. Over the last two decades or so, the local place, particularly the city or the neighbourhood within the city, has attracted considerable attention. Imbued with transnational and cosmopolitan traits, these local places have been narrated as progressive and empowering in contrast to a nation perceived as to embodying opposite dimensions. The present study critically interrogates this local/national divide. Drawing on narratives of Italians with foreign background talking and writing about their individual experiences of living and growing up in Italy, the article offers empirical evidence which challenges the local/national divide in two ways. First, participants blurred the distinction between these two scales, as identification and attachment to local places were narrated by also mobilizing national markers. Second, the sense of local rootedness of the participants was not cast against the nation, but it was strategically deployed to claim a place in the nation. These findings invite scholars to explore the different ways in which the nation intervenes in shaping life in diversity, beyond the dominant narrative of the local/national divide.
This work was supported by the European Commission under Grant PCIG13-GA-2013-618470.
- Social Sciences
- Geography and Environment