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The neoliberal culturalist nation: voices from Italy

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posted on 2020-12-17, 09:56 authored by Marco AntonsichMarco Antonsich
The impact of neo-liberal globalisation on the nation-state has been extensively studied in terms of politico-economic restructuring and forms of governmentality and securitisation. While the former speaks of a process of de-nationalisation, the latter brings about a re-nationalisation process. In both cases, though, the focus has only been on one component of the nation-state, i.e. the state. The nation has either been treated as a given backdrop or merely ignored. This articles aims to bring the nation back as a way to better contextualise practices of socio-spatial exclusion associated with one particular aspect of neoliberal globalisation, namely international migration. By analysing parliamentary debates in Italy between 1986 and 2014, the article explores the intersections between neoliberalism and cultural essentialism as they conflate in what I call the ‘neoliberal culturalist nation’. This construct permits to identify the role that a national culturalist imaginary plays in prompting and justifying governmental practices of securitization, which in turn are implicated in the production of vulnerable and expendable labour force. Moreover, it reveals how a neoliberal workfarist and individualised logic is functional to the ‘normalisation’ of the foreign immigrant and the reproduction of the national titular group. My argument is that a national culturalist imaginary exists in a mutually reinforcing relation with, rather than in opposition to neoliberalism. Far from keeping nation and state as ontologically distinct or theorising their decoupling, the article points instead to a renewed spatial isomorphism between nation and state which comes indeed to epitomise the very process of current re-nationalisation.


This work was supported by the European Commission under Grant PCIG13-GA-2013-618470.



  • Geography and Environment

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Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers








ANTONSICH, M., 2017. The neoliberal culturalist nation – voices from Italy. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 41 (4), pp. 490-502.


Wiley / © Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers)


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This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: ANTONSICH, M., 2017. The neoliberal culturalist nation – voices from Italy. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 41 (4), pp. 490-502., which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tran.12132. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.




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