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67 Working Paper

Territorial Identities in A New Europe: The Rise of Lega Nord in Northern Italy

1997 – Marga Gomez-Reino


This paper argues that categories of nationhood are constructed in political processes. Rather than taking ethno territorial minorities or national minorities as pre-existing and necessary conditions for political mobilization in Eu ropean polities, these categories of belonging can be seen, in fact, as the outcome of political mobilization. I advance in this paper a different analytical framework to explain why and how categories of nationhood are constructed. The paper discusses and presents empirical evidence on the wave of political mobilization in the northern Italian regions that involved new claims of recognition for national minorities in the 1960s and 1970s, he formation of new associa tions and political parties in these regions and, later, the creation of Lega Nord. I show why and how Padania as a category of belonging was constructed and how political processes determined why some categories and not others became relevant for electoral competition in the Italian political system.-I wish to thank Inger Weibust and Phineas Baxandall for their comments on the first draft of this paper, and the participants in the Graduate Student Conferences "Politics of Idenrity Formation in Europe" (Center for European Studies, Harvard University) and "Europe Between Unity and Diversity" (Center for Germanic and European Studies, Georgetown University) for their useful com­ments, 1 also wish to thank the participants in the writing group in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, Thomas Malaby, Brian Palmer, Josh Breslau and Matthew Kohrman, for great discussions and suggestions. Special thanks to Levent Sovsal and Fabio Quassoli for endless discussions on Lega Nord and support over rime. 1 wish to thank. Matteo Mainetti and Davide Stellitano for translation of the texts on Amassita Piemonteisa, and Mario Lucchini and Paola Consoni for their help while 1 was in the field.