“They treat us like criminals”: urban public spaces and ethnic discrimination in Italy’, Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 52, no. 4, 2018, pp. 338-354



ABSTRACT Mantovan’s article analyses the processes that lead to discrimination against migrants in the public spaces of Italy’s towns. Her analysis is based on a three-year research project conducted in northeastern Italy using mixed methods— ethnographic observation, semi-structured interviews, a press review, an analysis of relevant documentation and data collection—and remaining constantly in touch with research conducted in various Italian cities. Starting from an idea of a city whose evolution is the product of alliances, conflicts, active networks of individuals and their respective competing interests, Mantovan sheds light on how discrimination against immigrants in Italy’s urban public spaces is the result of a process of social construction implemented by a number of social actors (journalists, citizens’ committees, politicians and police forces) who represent the visible presence of migrants in these public spaces as deviant and unlawful, especially if they are undocumented immigrants and/or of low socio-economic status. She also argues for the importance of taking into consideration the contribution of economic and political dynamics, both global and national, to the generation of these phenomena by interacting with those at the local level.