Left-Wing Politics, Civil Society and Immigration in Italy: The Case of Bologna Davide Pero

Introduction

Immigration and multiculturalism are important and much debated questions in contemporary Europe. Whereas considerable scholarship has examined how political institutions and Right-wing organizations have responded to these questions, little research has focused on the Left. This article examines the multicultural politics of the latter by considering ethnographically the experience of Bologna, the showcase city of the Italian Left, in the second half of the 1990s. The Left is here examined in terms of ideology, party, public policy and civil society in the context of everyday governance and with special reference to the discourses and practices concerning a group of Rom refugees from the former Yugoslavia. This article argues that the mainstream Italian Left (in its civil societal as well as party and administrative components) is characterized by a politics that fails to ‘‘integrate’’ ethno-cultural recognition with material justice and that, partly because of such failure, contributes little to the ‘‘integration’’ of immigrants.