Working Paper

Local Belonging, National Authenticity, and the Foreigner: The Encounter Between Bangladeshi and Senegalese Street Hawkers and International Holidaymakers in Rome and Naples, Italy

Published 1 January 2013 / By Phoenix Paz

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Building upon the idea that nationhood and nationality are social constructions, I argue that the actors who create these often multiple and contradictory narratives are not only the citizens of a nation-state with officially recognized belonging. Rather, those individuals outside official recognition and the imagined limits of a nation – foreigners and strangers – are also essential to the articulation of the boundaries of national belonging. Focusing on the interaction between immigrant street hawkers and international holidaymakers in Italy, I analyse the ways different foreigners enter into a dialogue of national and local authenticity and belonging. I examine the context of Bangladeshi and Senegalese migration to Italy, establishing how these populations are constructed as foreigners by the Italian nation and its imagined cohesive and authentic embodied community, and analyse how these communities have forged a place for themselves within that context. Then, I break down the interaction between immigrant hawkers and holidaymakers to see how the dialogue between foreigners reshapes the discussion of local authenticity and national belonging as something very different from the Italian national narration but which has parallel lines of inclusion and exclusion.


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