This book is about one of the most remarkable European politicians of recent decades, the four times Italian prime minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, and about his contribution to the dramatic changes that have overtaken Italian politics since the early 1990s. Since 2013 Berlusconi’s career seems to have entered a new and possibly final phase, in which he is occupied less frequently in setting the political agenda than in reacting to agendas set by others. Consequently, the time is now right to consider his legacy, and how and why he has changed, or failed to change, Italian politics in the period since his emergence. The basic question underlying the book is thus: from the vantage point of 2017, would Italian political history of the past twenty-five years look substantially different had Berlusconi not had the high-profile role in it that he did? Ultimately, we can never conclusively answer such a question; but asking it makes it possible to contribute to a broader debate in recent years concerning the significance of leaders in post-Cold War democratic politics. Having considered Berlusconi’s legacy in the areas of political culture, voting and party politics, public policy and the quality of Italian democracy, the book concludes by considering the international significance of the Berlusconi phenomenon in relation to the recent election of Donald Trump, with whom Berlusconi is often compared. The book will appeal to anyone with an interest in Berlusconi the man, in Italian politics or in the growing significance of populist leaders.
A study in failure
James L. Newell
New theoretical directions
Demetriou Olga and Dimova Rozita
Materiality has long been tied to the political projects of nationalism and capitalism. But how are we to rethink borders in this context? Is the border the limit where the capitalist nation-state, contested and re-created at its centre, becomes fixed? Or is it something else? Is the border something, or does it instead do things? This volume brings questions of materiality to bear specifically on the study of borders. These questions address specifically the shift from ontology to process in thinking about borders. The political materialities of borders does not presume the material aspect of borders but rather explores the ways in which any such materiality comes into being. Through ethnographic and philosophical explorations of the ontology of borders and its limitations from the perspective of materiality, this volume seeks to throw light on the interaction between the materiality of state borders and the non-material aspects of state-making. This enables a new understanding of borders as productive of the politics of materiality, on which both the state project rests, including its multifarious forms in the post-nation-state era.
The difference of Deleuze and Derrida
Proceeding from the notion of borders as productive of difference and identity, this chapter explores two alternative ontologies of thinking the productiveness of borders. The focus is, on the one hand, on the tradition of thought based on certain Hegelian reflections taking place in Jacques Derrida’s work, and on the other on the Spinozian tradition reflected in the work of Gilles Deleuze. In the discussion the chapter takes as its point of reference two very different concrete historical cases of the activity of drawing borders, one being a drawing of a political border on the map of Europe in 1809 between Sweden and Russia, and the other being an epistemic border drawn in the discourses on sexualities in the late nineteenth century; both had multiple subsequent effects of terms of identities and differences.
The 2008 Italy–Libya Friendship Treaty and thereassembling of Fortress Europe
Chiara De Cesari
This chapter considers the dyads of materiality and immateriality and visibility and invisibility by investigating the relationship between social memory, international treaties, and the remaking of geopolitical borders. Focus is on the Mediterranean as a border zone currently undergoing a process of change. In particular, the chapter discusses the Italy–Libya Friendship treaty of 2008 and the ways in which it works as a non-site of memory and a bordering technology. By analysing the text of the Treaty and the symbolic politics that framed its signing, it argues that while the Treaty was publicly represented as a tool of reparation for crimes committed during the colonial period – as a site of memory – its actual effects were rather different.
This chapter reflects on the mediation of abstraction and materiality in border work in light of three deconstructions that run through much recent scholarship on borders: the ‘thingist’ rejection of anthropocentrism, the a-literalist critique of notions of borders as lines, and the governmentality-oriented turn away from a concern with territory. In particular, it draws attention to the question of the intensity of the line-ness of borders over time. The chapter does so by disentangling the (re)production of the so-called Inter-Entity Boundary Line that divides Bosnia and Herzegovina and its capital Sarajevo. It traces the making and maintenance of this polity border as a contingent process in which two asymmetrical political projects to mediate between abstraction and materiality clash over the relative line-ness of this border as part of state territorialization.
Greece’s borders with Turkey have in the last decade come under increasing European scrutiny because of their use by migrants as entry points into Europe. The same has applied for the Cypriot Buffer Zone since the island’s entry to the European Union in 2004. In response, the two governments have been adopting a variety of policies to ‘stem the flow of migrants’. Many of these policies draw on the nationalist narrative, where Turkey looms large as the main aggressor against Greece. This chapter focuses on these connections and examines the role of the two borders as material structures in this discursive and physical control of migration.
Borders in contemporary Macedonia
The last chapter in this volume reveals how the ‘displaced borders’ at the centre of the capital of Macedonia, Skopje, are materialized through grand buildings and monuments referring to a classical past and antiquity. This trend, which started in 2008 and is part of the ‘Skopje 2014’ project, is conditioned by the political dispute with Greece about the right to use the name ‘Macedonia’. The chapter examines the agency of size and grandeur in shaping people’s perceptions and reactions to material appearances.
Further reflections on forms of border
If borders mark differences, they do not all do so in the same way. While this proposition has been studied from a range of angles, this topic has rarely focused on the forms that borders take, both in material and in conceptual terms. Most often, borders are imagined as lines, or entities related to lines: walls, barriers, fences, perimeters. Lines evoke a sense of two sides, and, of course, that has been critiqued by scholars who prefer to think in terms of rhizomes, webs, fractals, or networks. Using the ideas of lines, traces, and tidemarks, this contribution embarks on a conversation about the diverse qualities of borders, or what could be called ‘border-ness’.
A remarkable politician?
James L. Newell
Almost all of the period since the early 1990s in Italian politics has been dominated by Silvio Berlusconi, whose career has spawned a rich literature but as yet no sustained attempt to address the fundamental questions of the nature or extent of its impact. An assessment of the Berlusconi legacy is essential thanks to changes in the meaning, the scope and the role of political leadership which, since the early 1990s, have rendered processes of change in the Italian political system much more amenable to the decisions and actions of the individuals occupying leadership positions than they had been previously. Moreover, an assessment of his legacy can contribute to broader debates about the extent to which individual leaders can actually ‘make a difference’ in a context in which popular hopes and expectations placed in leaders appear to have risen to, possibly, unrealistic levels. Throughout the book, the basic argument is that Berlusconi is significant far more for what his career tells us about Italian politics and how it has unfolded over the past quarter century than he is for how he has changed it.
Theorizing material and non-material mediations on theborder
Olga Demetriou and Rozita Dimova
In the first chapter, the editors analyse the link between materiality and borders as a political project that emanates from the separation between similarity and difference. To what extent is the mediation between materiality and immateriality in the various manifestations of border-making carried out through assumptions at the basis of particular forms of governance? What kinds of subjects do borders produce, and to what extent is the materiality of borders sustained or undermined by these forms of subjectivity? What are the diachronic connections and disconnections between material borders and the identities they interpellate? What kinds of structures (material and conceptual) sustain and undermine borders? In critically exploring the mediation between material and immaterial we ask what the interaction with, contemplation of, and experience of borders enables. At what horizon does agency (as corollary to power) begin to be reconstituted as a more complex but also clearer instance of state–subject relations?