The new nativist and populist movements find a common thread in their proclivity for upholding the family as the foundation of the national community. They also converge in portraying it as a rigidly-defined and immutable institution, which is hierarchical and based on clearly distinguished gender roles. This article introduces this special issue dedicated to family and nation as defined by the new populist turn, and discusses the connections that link the call for a return to the so-called “traditional family life” and the portrayal of the nation as a biological community. The essay argues that both the assertion of a rigid concept of family life and the definition of the nation as a community of blood are grounded in a nostalgic longing for a non-existent past. It also maintains that a radical rethinking of both nation and family as imagined communities is needed to respond to the new nativist-populist call.
The article traces the trajectory of the Italian anti-gender movements from the first public demonstrations in the Spring of 2013 to their entry in Parliament after the elections of March 4, 2018. In particular, it will explore the main stages of the movement’s development as an organized and collective reality with the aim of acting in the political field by means of a strategy of “contamination”, as defined by its leader Massimo Gandolfini. The article provides a political analysis with the aim to grasp the overlapping of the movement’s religious background, the strategies of political intervention, and the construction of the anti-gender cause. The advanced hypothesis is that the definition of the struggle against the “gender ideology” as a new Catholic cause has led to the consolidation of a Neo-Catholic project for re-establishing a Catholic political action.
Starting from the encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891) the Catholic Church engaged in a vivid theological elaboration on what constitutes “the proper social order”, in connection with Neomotism. However, “nation-building” was a central theme also before this turning point, with the Catholic Church’s extensive criticisms of National Liberalism. These theories changed progressively starting from the encyclical Ubi arcano Dei (1922) which traced a distinction between “exaggerated” and “correct” nationalism, in parallel with female discipline in sexuality and family, seen as essential for the «Christian restoration of society». The post-war transformations led to the overcoming of these theories and the acceptance of the principle of gender equality, but the Church stiffened its position on sexuality and reproduction, highlighting the sacredness of life. After the universalism expressed by John XXIII and Paul VI, the centrality of national identities returned center stage with pope Wojtyła.
(Ri)definire i confini dell’ebraicità. Strategie di inclusione/esclusione nell’età liberale
Carlotta Ferrara degli Uberti
Drawing on Italian primary sources – mainly Jewish periodicals – and on a rich international scholarship, this article explores the ways in which Italian Jews have represented and discussed the redefinition of the boundaries of the community in the post-emancipation period. This reflection focuses on the use of categories of self- representation – nation, religion, race –, on their evolution and specific functions in the context of legal equality, nationalization and secularization. Through the analysis of these dynamics, we can shed light not only on the cultural history of the Jewish minority and on its cultural integration, but also on the transnational circulation of images and stereotypes and on some peculiarities of the Italian context. We can in fact interpret the evolution of Jewish self-fashioning as a – sometimes defensive – response to a much broader Italian and European discourse on national identities, human differences, religion, and state building.
The recent bill proposed by the Lega, and the rejection of the unconstitutionality of article 3 of the Merlin Law, have raised an old political-institutional debate, which involves public opinion, on the regulation of prostitution. The 1958 Law abolished brothels, seen as iconic places of prostitution that were controlled and supervised by public authority. The Merlin Law represented a radical depart from the longstanding attitude of regimenting the sex life of prostitutes. Retracing the 19th-century regulatory system, with specific focus on the distinctive, discriminatory and segregationist traits that characterized Italian legislation, the present article aims to highlight the persistence of the ethical, legal and cultural legacies that may have influenced the most recent political choices.