Verona the City of Love and Hate: Struggle to Define City-space and Belonging in the Age of Right-wing Populism

The picturesque setting of Shakespeare’s famous play Romeo and Juliet, the city of Verona is a tourist hub in northern Italy with its rich history, its world famous Valpolicella wine, and its still functioning Roman Arena that annually hosts operas and concerts. Yet, one lesser known reality is how the city is considered as a fortress of far-right movements and neofascist groups since World War II, today institutionalized in the city administration, seeking to define the city and belonging thereof. The dominance of far-right groups who have found greater expression through the right-wing populist party Lega is challenged by a thickly interwoven network of local associations remarkably situated in the neighborhood of Veronetta, who pursue everyday practices of appropriating urban spaces whilst redefining belonging and city-zenship. It is at this conjuncture that the case of Verona is taken to apply microscopic lenses to understand the global rise of right-wing populist politics in the everyday urban context through an exclusive construction of belonging and local identity, as well as how such representations are challenged by actors who seek to create an inclusive city for various minorities.

Ipek Demirsu is a PhD student in Social Sciences at the University of Padova, with a focus on migration and the city in the Italian context. Previously, Ipek completed a PhD in Political Science and International Relations at Sabanci University (Istanbul), during which had the chance to spend time as a visiting researcher in the stimulating environment of University of Otago National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. Ipek has worked as post-doctoral researcher in a joint project conducted by Sabanci University and KU Leuven, entitled "Assessing interdependence between the European Union and Turkey: Policies and cooperation in regional and global governance". Ipek is author of the book Counter-terrorism and the Prospects of Human Rights: Securitizing Difference and Dissent published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2017. Ipek's research interests include human rights,democracy and pluralism, security studies, migration studies, everyday resistance, urban ethnography, and qualitative research methods.

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