February 3: Chasseron with Yvan, Jean-Thomas. Horrible weather and station purri, first freestyle experience in the forest, okay food in a picturesque chalet
February 16 and17: Zinal with Pierlu, Maria, Laure, Fabian. Fantastic weather, good group keeping up the pace wonderfully
March 10: Verbier with Yvan, Jean-Thomas and Yvan’s friend. Fantastic weather, rail n’ ski at 7 in the morning, Mont Fort.
Marc 22: Verbier with Pierlu. Car at 7 in the morning, fantastic weather, excellent lunch, sunset over Lake Leman on the way back.
March 30: Portes de Soleil with Pierlu. Car at 6 in the morning, fantastic weather and organisation, eight hours with two small breaks.
April 15: Portes de Soleil, alone. Train to Lausanne, Aigle, Champery. Bad food on the French side.
Alt-J, Andrew Bird, Angus and Julia Stone, Antony and the Johnsons, the Arcade Fire, Balmorhea, Beach Boys, Ben Howard, Bloc Party, Bob Dylan, Bon Iver, Bruce Springsteen, the Cat Empire, Cat Stevens, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Dan Mangan, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, the Dire Straits, Eddie Vedder, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Esbjorn Svensson Trio, Gaslight Anthem, Grandbrothers, Jack Johnson, Jack Savoretti, Keith Jarret, Kings of Leon, Leonard Cohen, Lucio Dalla, Metric, the Queen, Silversun Pickups, We are Augustines, White Buffalo.
About a year has passed since my Ph.D. defence and here comes the first publication out of the dissertation: The Regional Battleground: Partisanship as a Key Driver of the Subnational Contestation of Citizenship has been published on Ethnopolitics as part of a project on Where Borders Migrate: The Rescaling of Territory and Citizenship in Europe. The other contributions to this project were written by Jean-Thomas Arrighi, Dejan Stjepanovic, Stephen Tierney, Rainer Bauböck, Julija Sardelic, Maja Spanu, Gezim Krasniqi, and Michael Keating.
The article is the result of four years of research at the European University Institute and an extra spell of one year at the nccr – on the move. It challenges the idea that territorial rescaling invariably leads to a race to the bottom in the provision of rights for vulnerable subjects. I already presented some ideas that are in it during the three-minute speech you can watch below.
Ola and Elizabeth, whose wedding on a sunny November day of 2013 I attended both as a friend and official translator of the municipality of Fiesole, are about to publish the first album born out of the collaboration of their bands, Allo Darlin and Making Marks and Sunturns. The title is Ghost Writer and it is dedicated to their newborn child. You can listen one “jaunty, upbeat” song and read some very wise words from them through this link to an American magazine.
This is the link to the article I published together with Jean-Thomas and Sam on European Political Science. You can read it for free thanks to the funding we have received from GLOBALCIT and the Global Governance Programme to make it open access.
In the article, we present ELECLAW, a new set of indicators that captures the subtle and variegated legal landscape of persisting electoral rights restrictions.
If I could chose an image for this piece it would be the 1913 feminist manifesto pictured above. The electoral franchise has become more universal as restrictions based on criteria such as sex or property have been lifted throughout the process of democratisation. Yet, a broad range of exclusions has persisted to this date, making the suffrage non-universal, even in established democracies. The exclusion of prisoners or persons with a mental disability, for instance, remains a divisive issue in most contemporary democracies. Another particularly widespread and controversial form of disenfranchisement stems from international migration, as a result of which non-naturalised immigrants are often excluded from elections held in their country of residence and, to a lesser degree, in their country of citizenship. In democratically governed states, regions, and cities, these infringements to the sacrosanct principle of universal suffrage have sparked debates about the very nature of the political community and the essential qualities of citizenship, resulting in frequent changes in the electoral law. Ultimately, a broad range of more or less severe restrictions has persisted to this date, making suffrage non-universal, even in established democracies.
I remember reading Annie Ernaux’s Memoria di ragazza on the train during a long, romantic night ride between Stockholm and Kiruna. Outside it was snowing. I felt like I was part of a Swedish noir movie. Next to me, Giallu, and Nicco were muttering indistinct phrases while Jasper was listening to Bubble Butt. We had decided to split two beds and two seats. It all went smoothly until Giallu was locked out of his cabin. The thought of that still makes me smile. The book, which I had bought together with Anna in a little library of Rovereto that we had previously discovered thanks to Martina, is honestly not great. I like its reflexivity and the way in which you can reconsider your own past. It is a bit too depressing for my taste, though.
Between January and February I read one book that had been given to me as a present by Martina during 2016: Jimmy Nelson’s Before they pass away. I remember seeing it in Iris and Erik’s apartment in Rotterdam when I was there six months earlier. Big book. Around the same time I also devoured Tim Marshall’s Prisoners of Geography. I am going to read more books on geopolitics in the next few years.
Between February and March I listened to Emmanuel Carrére’s Limonov through Radio Rai’s podcast Ad Alta Voce. Boy, what a good experience this was. Credit goes to Martina, who had recommended me the podcast – and the book: I remember I first saw it in her house, when she gave it to Fabio. I spent two weeks listening to it. Most vivid in my memory is the four hour non-stop session on my way to Zinal with Jean-Thomas and Elie. I also remember I stopped going to the office by bike around that time so that I could walk down slowly and listen to Limonov. This book left a trace.
Definitely less impactful was Jack London’s Martin Eden. I wanted to read a big, classic book again after my entertaining experience with Il Conte di Montecristo. This has not matched my expectations, though. My second weekend in Zinal, this time with Annique and Eva, I read William Boyd’s Sweet Caress. I had previously bought the book in Zurich. Another book by William Body, Any human heart, is definitely one of the best reads I have ever had. Not this one, though. I should have seen it coming: the name of the author is written in way bigger characters than the title of the book on the cover page.
Back in Neuchatel I started a new audiobook, courtesy of Radio Rai: Umberto Eco’s Il nome della rosa. I had read this great piece of art as a kid but I had forgotten everything. When Pedro hosted me for the second time in Madrid in 2017, I remember buying a Spanish copy of the book for him that I found in a second-hand market in El Retiro. It was a beautiful sunny day. This is an extraordinary book that everybody should read twice in their life.
I like to think of my spring in Paris together with Robert Doisneau’s Paris. When the first sun started to kick in in Neuchatel, I followed Francesca’s advice and I read Primo Levi’s, Il sistema periodico. My image of this book is that of the little cabins in Neuchatel’s harbor.
On my way to Cuba I decided to bring two books only: Eduardo Galeano’s Bocas del tiempo (strongly suggested by Jean-Thomas, who had loved the book when he read it in Argentina) and Alessandro Raveggi’s Panamericana (I had read about it somewhere and got curious). When I ran out of books, because we spent too much time reading due to the rain, Thomoose passed me his copy of Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. Oh what a pleasure to read it under the sun in El Varadero like a capitalist tourist.
In June I read Daniele del Giudice’s Staccando l’ombra da terra. This was a present by Giulia. Yes, yes, yes – a very good book.
In July I celebrated the Tour de France by reading two books by Bidon: Il Centogiro and Se qualcuno viene mi fa piacere. Leonardo Piccione’s career as a writer is quickly taking off and I will forever pride myself with the discovery of his talent before he became known to the big public.
In August I read Emmanuel Carrére’s Il Regno. I remember going through it on the Lake of Molveno, together with my dad who had read it a few months earlier. Two other books I read in July: Paolo Soglia’s Hanno deciso gli episodi, and Augusto Pieroni’s Leggere la fotografia. Not quintessential.
In Croatia I read Emmanuel Carrére, D’Autres vies que la mienne. This is the second book in French I completed after Albert Camus’ L’Etranger, which I read last year. I was proud. This book is way too long though and I would only recommend the first one hundred pages of it. I also read a comic book by Vladimir Grigorieff and Abdel de Bruxelles, Le conflit insraeélo-palestinien, which I had bought in Brussels with Anna.
In early October I read Robert Capa’s Slightly Out of Focus. It was good to read it on the boat with Giallu, Nicco, and Jonas. I told Thomoose to read it. It is entertaining. You read Capa and you can never tell whether he is for real. He just goes like – hei, let’s have a good time. In late October, on my way to Kenya, I read Desmond Morris’ La scimmia nuda. This was a present by Eliana. Nailed it. It was a good coincidence to read it in the country that really is the cradle of humanity.
Between November and December I read Giuseppe Sciortino’s Rebus immigrazione. He was my professor at the bachelor’s in sociology. This is a small and lean book that I read during one train ride from Trento to Neuchatel. Finally, in December I read Mary Ellen Mark’s On the Portrait and the Moment. This was my graduation present by Iris and Erik. They know how to make their pick. The most charming part of photography, for me, is portraits – of humans, rhinos and elephants. Landscapes are boring.
And this is the end. Reading back the post I realise that my book choices are closely tied to the people I know and the place I visit. I do not do this on purpose. But it feels right.