ABSTRACT

Italy is a ‘new’ immigration country, having experienced migration as a host only since the early 1990s. Regional diversity and centrifugal tendencies both at the cultural and political levels have characterized the Italian nation-state ever since its creation in 1860. The bases of national unity have been judged by many scholars and politicians (see, for instance, Galli della Loggia, 1998) to be weak and problematic. Regional, cultural and economic diversities have at times been seen as endangering or defying national unity and as providing an insufficient basis for identification and political organization. However, there has been little doubt that this diversity can be accommodated in a common national whole and that there are important elements of commonality that permit Italian citizens to constitute a nation (Diamanti, 1999; Nevola, 1999; Rusconi, 1993). The new immigration to Italy, however, adds a further challenge to this debate and to the very conception of the Italian nation and nation-state as an internally diverse community.