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 (