This article investigates the political activism of youth of migrant descent mobilizing to achieve access to citizenship rights in Italy. Specifically, it focuses on the mobilizing practices and discursive strategies they employed throughout the 2017 campaign to reform the Italian citizenship law. By means of participant observation and in-depth interviews with representatives of the main groups involved in the campaign, the study shows that the so-called ‘new Italians’ claimed recognition and inclusion into the nation by relying on the idiom of legal rights and by using a language that rested upon the notion of deservingness and exceptionality. It also suggests that the youth constituted themselves as political actors by means of political engagement, as they performed acts of citizenship through which they enacted their right to that status even in absence of formal legal recognition. By putting studies on youth activism in conversation with critical citizenship literature, critical race theory and social movement scholarship, this study discloses how the ‘new Italians’ advocated for their rights, creating and appropriating their space within the discourse on nation.
Chiara Milan, Claiming rights. The mobilization of youth of migrant descent for access to citizenship rights in Italy, Citizenship Studies, 2022.