From Palermo to Turin, to outsiders, Italy resembles a typically multicultural, globalised nation-state. Difficulty in understanding that has more to do with politics than it does with actually existing Italy.
The reality is not just a reflection of the impact of mass immigration on the country. It’s also a reflection of its internal cultural and ethnic diversity, which has accumulated in what became Italy, over the centuries.
Arab and Greek, African and Turk, Albanian and Jew. That’s Italy.
The fact that this diversity is not acknowledged as such, today, is one of the political problems created by Italian nationalism, which, like all such political traditions, imposes a false narrative of European identity on the country. As it does in any European context in which nationalism is an issue.
The photographs in this short photo essay subscribe to that critique. Shot by an Israeli-American photographer, of partial Italian origin (my father’s side of the family), I am particularly sensitive to expressions of ethnic difference in Italy. Most of my Italian relatives are said to have perished in the Holocaust.
In and out of Turin for the better part of the last decade, these photographs reflect that history. Shot over the last two months, they are also significant for their intersection with the current crisis around immigration, presided over by the country’s far-right Deputy Premier, Matteo Salvini.
Photographs courtesy of the author. All rights reserved.