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Abstract

This essay picks up a few threads in the ongoing debate on national identity in Italy. Immigration and the intertwining of cultures locally have stretched the contours of the nation state to a breaking point. As a result, the social self has become a sharply contested terrain between those who want to install a symbolic electronic fence around an imagined fatherland and those who want a more inclusive nation at home in a global world. After discussing the views of Amin Maalouf (2000), Alessandro Dal Lago (2009), Abdelmalek Sayad (1999) and Patrick Manning (2005) on national identity and migration in the first half, the essay goes on in the second half to examine the powerful contribution to the debate by leading Italian Romaní intellectual, Santino Spinelli (2012), and Romanologist Lorenzo Monasta (2008). The depth of the current identity crisis in Italy makes this country an ideal laboratory to probe new approaches on the subject.