Between nationalism and regionalism: borders and bordering in Italy during the health emergency

Authors: Raffaella Coletti*, CNR - Institute for the Study of Regionalism, Federalism and Self-Government, Italy, Andrea Filippetti, CNR - Institute for the Study of Regionalism, Federalism and Self-Government, Italy
Topics: Political Geography
Keywords: Bordering, multi-level governance, Regionalism, Nationalism
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 15
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Border closures were one of the most immediate and visible reactions put into practice by several governments across the world in front of the spread of the Covid 19 pandemic, in an attempt to protect national populations and limit the contagion. Closing borders was used as a crucial defence strategy, in the framework of calls to the unity of nations and use of national symbols diffused worldwide. As a containment strategy, however, countries also adopted limitations to their internal mobility, and bordering and fragmentation of territories aimed at limiting the diffusion of the virus within national boundaries. The fragmentation usually followed pre-defined internal, administrative boundaries, allowing different measures to be applied in specific cities, provinces or regions, based on the different levels of diffusion of the virus. This process, together with the crucial role played by sub-national authorities in management and implementation of response measures in the face of the health and economic emergency, set the framework for an increasing “politics of regionalism”, with sub-national politicians adopting, contesting and negotiating national responses and strategies. By focusing on the case of Italy, the aim of the presentation is to explore how internal and external bordering interplayed as a response to the “non human threat” posed by the virus, stimulating converging and diverging nationalist and regionalist claims. In doing so, the presentation will highlight the mobile character of borders, as well as their capacity to offer a framework to analyse emerging spaces of conflict and cooperation among political agents at different scales.

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