Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Call for papers: The Politics of Sexuality in Contemporary Italy

Guest Editors: Isabel Crowhurst (Birkbeck, University of London), Giovanni Porfido (University of Birmingham), and Chiara Bertone (Università del Piemonte Orientale).

The aim of this special issue is to discuss the politics of sexuality in contemporary Italian cultural and social life. The analysis of how sexuality may articulate citizenship, social inclusion/exclusion, belonging and participation, racial, class and gender relations (Lister 2007, Bell and Binnie 2000, Weeks 1998; Seidman 1997; Rubin 1982) is still a relatively under-researched area of study in the Italian context. Nevertheless, recent heated debates and troubling events in Italian public life, including the increase in homophobic violence, disputes over same-sex partnerships and a new prostitution law, suggest that a rigorous critical engagement with these issues is much needed.

Key questions to be explored include: Which sexualities are constructed and treated as privileged and which are minoritized or/and stigmatized? What accounts for these distinctions (sexual orientation, ‘race’, ethnicity, disability, gender)? How/Do these differentiations map out onto policies and social practices? What are the tensions between and within dominant normative sexualities and minoritized ones?

Potential contributions might address the following issues and topics: sexuality and ‘the family’; heterosexual normativity; social and legal recognition of same-sex relationships; the regulation of sexual practices; reproductive rights; transgender recognition; sex work and prostitution; sexuality and politics; sexuality and religion; sexuality and migration; sexuality and the constructions of ‘the nation’; sexual rights; sexuality and the welfare agenda.

The editors of Modern Italy have expressed a strong interest in dedicating the early 2013 issue of the journal to this theme. We therefore invite proposals for high-quality interdisciplinary articles from different theoretical and methodological approaches exploring the proposed theme, with a view to further developing an understanding of sexual policies, politics and practices in contemporary Italy.

Expressions of interest in the form of 400-500 word abstracts and a brief CV should be sent to the guest-editors:; and by 15th January 2010. We plan to notify authors whether their abstracts have been accepted by early February 2010. To discuss ideas for submission in advance, or for further questions, please send an email to:

Sunday, 11 October 2009

CONGRIPS call for papers


Title: The 2008 Election and the Italian Political System: Quo Vadis?

The outcome of the 2008 general election seems to have represented something of a watershed in Italian politics. Most obviously, it brought the landslide victory of Silvio Berlusconi, making him one of Europe's most successful politicians of recent decades and giving him a position of seeming hegemony in Italian politics. Concomitantly, it brought the failure of the centre left and of Veltroni's project for a single party capable on its own of offering a credible alternative to the current incumbents. Third, in bringing an unprecedented concentration of seats on a small number of parties, one led by a prime minister whose control of it was unassailable, the election brought to office a government that looked set to be the strongest in the history of the Italian republic.

The election prompts two major questions. First, it seems reasonable to think that all else equal outcomes with the foregoing characteristics will bring radical changes in the characteristics of governance. In particular, strong government ought to be self-reinforcing owing to the opportunities it provides for 'permanent campaigning' - using support mobilization as a key resource for governing, while using governing as an instrument to build and sustain support. And it ought therefore to be accompanied by improvement in the actual efficiency and effectiveness of policy outputs and processes of policy making. The second question concerns the great pessimism which this state of affairs reinforces - and has reinforced - for the prospects of the centre left returning to office at any time in the near future. On the one hand, the failure of the 2008 'go-it-alone' approach makes it difficult to envisage any realistic way forward without some kind of alliance strategy. On the other hand, the parties concerned remain as divided and litigious as ever. So in order to assess the significance of the general election of 2008 and thus the current 'state of play' of Italian politics, papers are sought that are relevant to either of these two broad themes. Has the election brought a sea-change in the quality of government in Italy and if so why; if not, why not? What is the current state of the forces of opposition to the centre right and what are their prospects?

Papers can either focus on some particular area of policy making, political actor or aspect of the political system; or they can take a broader focus, considering, for example, the Government or the centre-left in their entirety. What is important is that the papers bring out clearly the bearing of what they have to say on one or both of the aforementioned themes.

Paper abstracts (circa 250 words) should be e-mailed by 30 November 2009 to: the CONGRIPS Program Committee Chair, Jim Newell (

Monday, 24 August 2009

Fellowship in Italian studies

The Collegio Carlo Alberto in Moncalieri (Torino), and a network of Italian Universities and research centers, are inviting applications to a minimum of five "Visiting Fellowships in Italian Studies". The broad area of interest of the fellowships include political science, international relations, public policy, comparative politics, sociology, anthropology, European studies and Italian contemporary history. The goal of the program is to stimulate interest in Italy and in Italian affairs among the American scientific and policy-analysis communities. It is aimed at both established scholars and PhD Students, who will be able to work at the Collegio in close collaboration with a network of participating institutions: Aspen Italia, Istituto Affari Internazionali, the Universities of Catania, Firenze, Milano (Cattolica), Milano (Statale), Parma, Roma Tre, Siena, Torino and Trento.
Inserisci link
Full details can be found at

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Call for Papers: PSA 60th Anniversary Conference, Edinburgh, 29 March – 1 April 2010

Title: Party leadership in Western Europe: Strictly Personal?

Convenors: Duncan McDonnell (Turin) and James Newell (Salford)

The Italian Politics Specialist Group and the French Politics and Policy Specialist Group of the Political Studies Association envisage sponsoring a workshop on the above topic at the Association’s annual conference to be held in Edinburgh in March/April 2010.

For several years there has in most western European democracies been a growing ‘personalization’ of political leadership as a result of well-known processes of change having to do with

  • the role of the mass media in rendering the lives of the individuals who walk on the public stage ‘much more visible than they ever were in the past’ (Thompson, 2000: 6) and allowing politicians to present themselves not just as leaders, but as ‘one of us’;
  • the switch from ‘party-’ to ‘candidate-centred’ campaigning – declining ideological conflict having shifted attention from position to valence issues and thus to candidates’ competence; television and other electronic media, by allowing candidates to appeal directly to voters, having diminished the requirement for good party organisation and thus the attention to party itself in campaigns;
  • the role of declining ideological conflict in shifting the political battleground to the terrain of morality – with parties increasingly attempting to compete by fomenting scandal – and thus a growing focus on matters of personal integrity.
  • the rise of ‘personal parties’ (Calise, 2000), founded (or re-launched) and led by individuals, with political communication strategies being almost entirely focussed on these leaders.

But while the causes and concomitants of personal leadership have been much explored, much less attention has been paid to its possible effects in terms of the significance of individual leaders. Consequently, fundamental questions remain unanswered – not least the question of whether the heightened focus – in political competition – on leaders and their personal qualities has been accompanied by any growth in their actual power. This raises a range of closely related questions, such as: If their power has increased, to what extent, in seeking to understand political processes and processes of political change, must we now pay greater attention than we once did to matters of political agency as compared to matters of structure? What are the factors that account for the emergence and growth of unusually powerful party leaders? That is, what are the factors that obstruct and enhance their efforts to act as significant agents of change?

We invite papers exploring, from a single-country or a cross-national perspective, any of these themes. We are especially interested in studies of personal party leadership which could shed light on the Italian experience and the extent to which the role of an unusually powerful leader like Silvio Berlusconi represents a uniquely Italian phenomenon as opposed to being merely a rather extreme example of a more widespread, cross-national phenomenon. However, papers that explore the foregoing themes by drawing on alternative comparisons in Western Europe are equally welcome.

Paper abstracts (circa 250 words) should be e-mailed by 1 September to: Duncan McDonnell ( and Jim Newell (

For more information, please visit the conference website at:

Title: Morality, political scandals and the detachment of citizens from the political process

Convenors: Daniele Albertazzi (Birmingham), James Newell (Salford) and Umut Korkut (University College, Dublin)

Since the early 1990s in many democracies there have been growing levels of public concer n – fuelled partly by high-profile scandals – about the standards of conduct of public office-holders. This is no better exemplified than by the scandal surrounding MPs’ expenses in the UK, the recent allegations concerning the conduct of Silvio Berlusconi in the area of personal morality in Italy or the mayhem in Budapest in 2006 after the leaking of a secret speech by Gyurcsány delivered to his party delegates. Of course, these affairs are very different in many respects and timing. What they have in common is that they have ultimately been driven by the perception that the alleged wrong-doing has cheapened the democratic process, resulting in more or less significant losses of authority for the political actors involved. Against this background, important for an understanding of contemporary democratic processes and their quality is knowledge of the role of political scandals and public concerns about probity in the growth of anti-political sentiments, declining turnouts and other manifestations of citizens’ detachment from the political process. Comparisons in particular between Eastern and Western Europe would seem to have much to offer: while they have shown the aforementioned signs of citizens’ detachment, scandals and public concerns seem to play different roles in each case: for example, though the issues at stake in the British MPs’ expenses row and Berlusconi scandals have had much in common, their consequences in terms of voting behaviour and parties’ electoral fortunes have so far been rather different. And in Hungary, a leaked speech can even raise doubts about the legitimacy of an elected government.

We invite offers of papers that draw on East and West European cases or both to explore any aspect of the relationship between citizens’ political engagement on the one hand, and scandals and concerns about probity, on the other – bearing in mind that the relationship between the two almost certainly goes in both directions and is very likely to be reciprocal. Papers might have a very specific focus, such as this or that election outcome, or they might be much broader, ‘think pieces’. What is important is that they should point to at least some conclusions generally relevant for our main variables of concern.

Paper abstracts (circa 250 words) should be e-mailed by 1 September to: Daniele Albertazzi (, Jim Newell (, Umut Korkut (

For more information, please visit the conference website at:

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Group members participating at SISP

The Italian Political Science Association, SISP, is holding its annual meeting in Rome between the 17th and 19th September 2009. Two panels in particular will feature members of the specialist group:

4.3 Populism in Italy: Historical, Contemporary and Comparative Perspectives

Chaired by Daniele Albertazzi and Duncan McDonnell

4.4 I partiti del centro-sinistra: Unioni, Matrimoni e Divorzi

Chaired by Duncan McDonnell, with James Newell, Mark Donovan, Mario Caciagli, Mauro Barisione and Franca Roncarolo participating

Monday, 20 April 2009

ASMI Postgraduate Conference

Italian Cultural Institute, Edinburgh
Friday 3 July 2009

Proposals are now invited from postgraduate students for presentations on any aspect of Italian history, politics, culture (excluding literature) or society from the late eighteenth century to the twenty-first century.

ASMI Postgraduate Conference

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Bulletin of Italian Politics to launch

The Bulletin of Italian Politics (BIP) provides a forum for discussion of recent developments in Italian politics and their domestic and international implications. Offering pieces more analytically incisive than newspaper articles but with a greater focus on the most recent events than academic journal articles the journal is designed to meet the needs of academics, journalists and policy-makers.

See the flier with details on the inaugural issue.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Selected publications from 2008

The following are some recent publications by group members.
by Tom Behan
  • T. Behan, Defiance: The Untold Story of One Man Who Stood Up To The Sicilian Mafia, I.B. Tauris, London, 2008, pp214
  • T. Behan, See Naples and Die. The Camorra & Organised Crime, I.B. Tauris, London, 2009 [2nd ed.]
by Mark Donovan
  • M. Donovan and P. Onofri (eds), Politica in Italia. I fatti dell'anno e le interpretazioni (2008), Il Mulino, 2008
  • M. Donovan and P. Onofri (eds), Italian Politics. Frustrated Ambitions for Change, Berghahn, forthcoming.
by Carl Levy
  • C. Levy, "`Sovversivismo': The Radical Political Culture of Otherness in Liberal Italy", Journal of Political Ideologies, Vol 123,No. 2, 2007, pp. 147-161
  • C. Levy, "The Anarchist Assassin in Italian History, 1870s-1930s", in S. Gundle and L. Rinaldi (eds.), Assassination and Murder in Modern Italy. Transformations in Society and Culture, Palgrave Macmillan, New York and London, 2007, pp, 207-232, ISBN 13: 978-1-4039-8391-6.
  • C. Levy, L’État fasciste, antisémitisme et la Shoah: les grands courants historiographiques’, Revue de la Shoah, no. 189, July-December, 2008, pp. 497-510
by Bruno Mascitelli and Simone Battiston
  • Mascitelli, B and Battiston, S., The Italian expatriate vote: democratic right, democratic wrong or political opportunism? Ballan, Vic, Connor Court Publishing, 2008.
  • Battiston, S and Mascitelli, B., 'Full voting rights for Italian citizens overseas : citizenship gone global, Italianness or Italian party politics?' in Bronitt, S and Rubenstein, K (eds) Citizenship in a post-national world - Australia and Europe compared, The Federation Press, Annandale, NSW, 2008, pp. 1-23.
  • Battiston, S and Mascitelli, B 'The challenges to democracy and citizenship surrounding the vote to Italians overseas', Modern Italy, Vol. 13, no. 3, 2008, pp. 261-280.
by Gianfranco Pasquino
  • Pasquino, G. "Pourquoi il n'y a pas de social-démocratie en Italie", in Pôle Sud. Revue de science politique de l'Europe méridionale, n. 27/2, pp. 143-157
  • Pasquino, G. "Populism and Democracy", in D. Albertazzi e D.McDonnell (eds), Twenty-First Century Populism. The Spectre of Western European Democracy, London,-New York, Palgrave-Macmillan, pp. 15-29.
  • Pasquino, G. Review of Roberto Gritti e Mario Porcellini (a cura di), Elezioni senza precedenti. Dalle Primarie dell'Unione alle Politiche e al Referendum Costituzionale del 2006: voto, sistemi elettorali e comunicazione, Franco Angeli 2007, in Polis. Ricerche e Studi su Società e Politica in Italia, vol. XXI, Aprile 2008, pp. 158-160
  • Pasquino, G. "Gli anni del piombo rosso", in La Rivista dei Libri, vol. XVIII, n. 5, maggio 2008, pp. 8-10
  • Pasquino, G. "The Political Context", in J.L. Newell (ed.), The Italian general election of 2006, Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2008, pp. 15-32
  • Pasquino, G. "Making sense of recent Italian politics", in Journal of Modern Italian Studies, vol. 13, n.2, June 2008, pp. 259-264.
  • Pasquino, G. "Italy: The Never- ending Transition of a Democratic Regime", in J. Colomer, ed, Comparative European Politics, London, Routledge, 2008, pp. 135-173
  • Pasquino, G. "Le dinamiche della transizione italiana", in Futuribili, III Quadrimestre 2008, pp. 173-188.
  • Pasquino, G. "The 2008 Italian National Elections: Berlusconi's Third Victory", in South European Society and Politics, vol. 13, n. 3, September 2008, pp. 345-362.
  • Pasquino, G. "L'immaginario di sinistra", in Paradoxa, luglio/settembre 2008, pp. 22-29.
  • Pasquino, G. "Democratisation and De-democratisation in Italy", in Democratisation and De-democratisation in Europe?, Vienna, Karl Renner Institut-StudienVerlag, 2008, pp. 65-85
  • Pasquino, G. "Berlusconi IV", in La Rivista dei Libri", vol. XVIII, n. 11, novembre 2008, pp. 4-6.