From Rome To Cairo: Struggles for Democracy

The Mediterranean is a place of apparent difference, but one in which politics and culture are often more similar than we might at first suspect. This blog looks at Italy, Egypt and the relationship each has with the other shore of the 'Med', thinking about political trends in both countries, reflecting on the dangers and opportunities for democracy each of these experiences presents us with.


Cogito, ergo protesto

Cogito Ergo Protesto Once again, there is a veritable bounty of worrying news from Italy. I know, I know, this is going to start getting tiring quite quickly – the problem is, it’s sadly true. One of the most important elements of what is happening is the slow re-shaping of the law, and the undermining of the judiciary, but this is such a large topic that it requires justice I don’t have enough time for at the moment. But there is a small ‘side-show’ which tells us an important part of the techniques being used to normalize and hide what has been happening in Italy over the past fifteen years: education.

Crucifix Crisis? The Conceits of Italian Secularism and Berlusconi's use of the media


Here is an example of a 'scandal' - albeit a relatively minor one - which has grabbed headlines abroad as well as in Italy, but which is important not in itself but rather because it shows how Berlusconi uses such scandals to deflect attention from more serious issues. Like a sort of paradigmatic Newtonian action and reaction, to a relatively straightforward event Berlusconi reacts by completely blowing it out of proportion, provoking and then manipulating a debate which bamboozles audiences at home (understandable: he controls so much media!) and abroad (less understandable).

Lila Abu-Lughod to give Radcliffe-Brown Lecture in Aberdeen

As I promised I would do from time to time, I'm going to stray into Middle Eastern politics today with a brief announcement: Lila Abu-Lughod is going to give the prestigious Radcliffe-Brown Lecture in Social Anthropology at my University in about ten days' time, and I wanted to give The Weave bloggers and readers the opportunity of asking her a question through me.

Beyond "Pizza Politics": Sex Scandals and Media Control - Part 1

73 Italy’s politics should receive a great deal more attention than mainstream Western media, particularly until a few months ago, gave it. Unless you’ve been living in a parallel universe, you’re likely to have heard about the scandals involving hiring ‘escorts’ for parties in his villa in Sardinia, and even in the Prime Minister’s palace in Rome – and you’ve almost certainly heard of his (twice-repeated) ‘gaffe’ of calling President Obama and his wife “tanned”. You might think that since the latest summer scandals there might be rather more serious media engagement with Italian politics, and on the face of it you’d be right. Newspapers and magazines across the ‘Western’ world have been covering those more ‘menial’ scandals, his sexism and his racism, as well as outlining ‘Why Berlusconi is Unfit to lead Italy’, as the Economist famously titled a few years ago, by remarking on bribery, corruption allegations, and issues of media freedom. All of this is certainly important, and should be more than plenty to force him to step down. But it hasn’t. He’s still there. In fact, just the other day he declared he wouldn’t leave office even if he were found guilty.

Beyond "Pizza Politics": Sex Scandals and Media Control - Part 2

[Continues from Part 1


…Ok, I feel a lot better after that Margherita, and the ‘espresso’ was nice too…