From the European South

a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities

Che cos’è la razza? Il caso dell’Italia

Tatiana Petrovich Njegosh


What is race? The Italian case. While race is being dismissed as a scientific category, it exists as a socio-symbolic category producing racializing dynamics which heavily affect the life, opportunities and death of racialized people at a global level (see Balibar; Goldberg; Curcio and Mellino for the Italian context). Together with material repercussions, race simultaneously engenders performative and symbolic effects (Hall). Both in Italy and abroad, dominant approaches have been based on true/false-real/unreal binaries (Winant), recently put into question by different, interdisciplinary perspectives. While Shawn Michelle Smith argued that the intersection of Visual Culture Studies and Critical Race Studies can open up the possibility of defining race as a “visual cultural dynamic” and a “subjective status produced by the performance of a gaze” (2014), Arun Saldhana based his ‘ontology’ of race, in line with material feminism, on the subjective reality and truth of “embodied difference” (2006). On these premises, as well as with the help of the many, previous works on race and racism published in Italy by Italian scholars and activists (Piasere; Faso; Bontempelli; Re; Petrovich Njegosh and Scacchi; Giuliani and Lombardi-Diop), my article deals with the epistemology and ontology – the meanings and ‘referents’ – of race within the Italian public context today.




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