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Celebrating the 70th birthday of the Italian Republic

How young people see “Italian-ness” and diversity in a changed national scenario

Celebrating the 70th birthday of the Italian Republic

Claudia Astarita

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The 2nd of June is an important date for Italy, which marks the anniversary of the Republic.

70 years after the end of the monarchy and the establishment of an elected government, the nation has changed a lot. Not only institutionally, but  the "Italian identity" is evolving fast. In fact, due to the great waves of migration into the Bel Paese, the population has become quite heterogeneous in terms of ethnicity, religion and culture.

From these considerations, a very interesting research project, New Italians: The Remaking of the nation in the age of migration, was launched involving also Italian high school students, who were asked about the meaning of "Italy" and "Italians" today.

As explained by the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, from participants' observation and interviews, three main positions have come up. Namely, those who say "diversity does not affect us", wanting to stress the predominance of the "classic Italian" stereotype over other versions. A second trend highlights how much "diversity affects us and we don't like it", seeing those who are from different ethnic backgrounds as not Italians whatsoever. Lastly, a third trend argues, " diversity is part of the nation". This latter position sees as Italians those "who were born and have grown up in Italy".

In spite the above-mentioned positions seem to be quite contrasting, they communicate among each other in everyday life, staying in continuous contact. Furthermore, advocates of "diversity does not affect us" claim that people who are different (in terms of race, religion and culture) do not want to be referred as "the other". Therefore, nationality should be based on the territory of birth.

Lastly and worth noting is that young students have shown a lively interest in the Italian Constitution as the "glue of the country" and school plays a vital role in discovering constitutional basis, such as equality, human rights and freedoms. Therefore, as new Italians discover the beauties of the Constitution, "old Italians" should also approach it, remembering how much it cost to be where we are today.

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