Panel 20

Impolitic bodies for official policies. Interfaces and contradictions in the relationship between lives at the edge and the production of the norm

Panel 20 / Quarto Convegno Nazionale SIAC “Il ritorno del sociale”, Sapienza Università di Roma, 21-22-23 settembre 2023

Proponenti: Cristiana Panella (Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren), Isabella Clough Marinaro (John Cabot University, Rome)

Discussant: Piero Vereni (Università Tor Vergata di Roma)


The processes by which nation is continuously (re)constructed involve a value discrimination whereby the social “backwardness” that the state attributes to certain economically liminal actors is often accompanied by moral, aesthetic and juridical connotations. A well-known example were Herzfeld’s Cretan artisans whose “obsolete” corporeality – incarnating the archaic heroic values of animal thieves (klèftes) that flowed into the resistance against Ottoman occupation – was repudiated by the modern Greek state intent on promoting an Attic culture more in line with European neoclassical tastes (Herzfeld 2003). This panel explores the facets that processes of marginalization, informalization and illegalization take on, through two distinct tracks. The first is ethnographic and focuses on the political construction of the “impolitic” bodies classified as “informal” or “illegal” that counter the norm. It addresses the shifting nature of their statuses; the interconnections between opacity and transparency (like in the case of artisanal miners in sub-Saharan Africa), between inclusion and exclusion (such as Italian policies to incorporate Roma bodies), and how the actors concerned respond through resistance and adaptation. The second track invites studies on the charisma of corporeality and its social and spiritual roles of subversion and integration. Theoretical, historical, philosophical, artistic, museograhic and literary approaches that cross different time periods are welcome.

Keywords: body/corporeality, informality/illegality, estrangement, liminality, political normativity

Lingue accettate: Italiano / English / Français

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