Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

Tag: jean thomas

Non-universal suffrage

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.

Manifesto.jpg

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.

Direction Istanbul à vélo

François came to Neuchâtel in the 1990s. He worked here and moved back and forth to Montpellier, although he likes Aix-en-Provence better. In 2016 he started looking for a new apartment and in the end he took the room I was about to leave.

When I came back, one year ago, we became part-time flatmates. He, like Jean Thomas, was away most of the time; but the few days we spent together were good. He is calm, thoughtful, youthful, curious, careful. When I think of him I think of expensive mattresses, verbena, sheeps, maps, and big white afro hair on a white man.

François left Neuchâtel in June last year. He has now embarked on new projects. One of these is a long ride from Montpellier to Istanbul. It began already a week ago and you can follow his steps on his new blog. Daje François.

 

Post scriptum. Before publishing this blogpost I asked him consent: Si il y a que des gentils comme Elie, Marco, Jean-Thomas, les filles allemandes, alors ça va!

Swissmaking, one year later

Jean Thomas and François, Rue de la Côte, the mattress. Unine, SUN. Escrime on Tuesday and Wednesday, tennis with Salomon on Thursday. Gruyere and freshly baked baguette at the Saturday market. Xamax with Elie and Raffaele. Genève. Giulia. Les Bains des Pâquis. Pasta fresca with Marco. The morning breakfast with le dinosaure at the Boulangerie de la Côte. Football with Michael and the ‘Savoir Faire a Manger‘ team. Santiago. Salsa, tango. Johanna. Mail. Dinner chez Maria, Damaso, Guido. Come si chiamano le tartarughe? Basel with Annique, carnival. Valais, Zinal. The lights of Zurich. Chasseron, alpine skying. La Fée verte ou absinthe du Val-de-Travers. Chasseral. La tartare a Yverdon. The Italian Consulate in Bern. Gaetan, Fribourg. Interlaken. The Aar from Thun to Bern. The Black Office and Cyclop. La Case à Chocs in Fall, le Chauffage Compris in Winter, Univers in Spring.

Fearless Femme

I was 24 when I decided I wanted to do a Ph.D. on how secessionist regions treat immigrants. At the time I was a census coordinator for my municipality by day and a restless student writing my master’s thesis by night. I remember one excruciating session in the library, when I wrote an email message to this Scottish professor who had published some remarkable articles on the topic I was interested in.

Eve answered after a couple of days with a long message. She invited me to a conference in Edinburgh where I met many of people who would have gone on to become my colleagues and friends – Jean Thomas, Dejan, Daniel. Since that day, she become my passionate and rigorous mentor. After helping me to secure a scholarship from the University of Edinburgh, she encouraged me to make a move to the European University Institute. We then spent my first year working together, as she was a Jean Monnet fellow there and tirelessly read all my drafts. I owe her so much.

Eve quit the academia two years ago and now she goes on with the the project Fearless Femme to challenge sexism and reduce mental health stigma. Wish her the best of luck!

Zinal

Un buon weekend.

One of them

Good news. In October I sent out my Ph.D. thesis and a few days ago – the moment I landed in London to see Marco, Francesca, Camilla and Isabella – I received the approval of my four jury members. I will, therefore, defend in early 2018, slightly late on my initial schedule.

When I told Jean Thomas, he said this would finally make me ‘one of us‘.

 

In the meanwhile, I have one important announcement to make. I have bought not one, but two pipes when I was in Torino with Marco: the first and more expensive one is a Chacom, billiard, Canadian-style, made in French-Jura; the other is a Piemontese Brebbia ‘da battaglia‘, small-billiard almost Price of Wales in style. It has been a fruitful season.

Xamax

At the beginning of September I moved back to Neuchâtel to work on a postdoc project with Jean Thomas and the rest of the crew that I had met in the Spring of 2016. I must admit was skeptical about the place – never had I been in such a small and lonely community before. But life unravels in unexpected ways: the first weeks of September have been a real springtime in autumn, as Thomoose used to say.

Back in March. I remember a cold, rainy morning in Torino. Niels was about to leave. We had breakfast together and he gave me one piece of advice: hit the ground running. During my first days in Neuchatel I signed up for pretty much anything one could think of. And to be honest with you, the place has been treating me really well these weeks. Much of it, of course, has to do with the people: not only Jean Thomas, but also the other colleagues whom I knew already, and those who arrived after I left.

A couple of stories about my inburgering. When moving to any Swiss town you have to register with the commune – it really reminds one of 1984. In exchange, you are given a permit, an introduction to the life in the local community, and a voucher to buy some medicines in the pharmacy. True that: since Neuchâtel is next to a nuclear production site the government has decided that all inhabitants must have in their houses a box of pills that will save us in the event of a nuclear holocaust. And until that happens, we distract ourselves with football. Last Wednesday I went to watch the match of the local team, the Neuchâtel Xamas, playing against the Geneva bunch, Servette FC. Those of you who have my age will know both teams, since they played against some Italian sides in the UEFA European Cup during the 1990s. Now they are on top of the Swiss second division. Good match, everything considered. Neuchâtel Xamas won 3-2 with a winner at minute 92’. On the same day, Djanni got a humanitarian permit to stay in Italy, so we celebrated.

Bianchi, Scott, Carrera

The best present I ever got was a Bianchi bike from my father after riding up the Col de la Lombarde together in 2009. Then my father decided to double on that and gave me another Bianchi in 2015, the celeste, so that I could bring it to Florence and start training with it. That bike never left Florence and is still there under the custody of Giallu. In 2016 I moved to Neuchâtel and bought a second-hand Scott at the bike market that takes place twice a year. I used it to go from home to work but also, occasionally, to reach some crazy mountain passes. The bike now lies with Jean Thomas.

Two weeks ago I bought another bike. It is a second-hand Carrera that a guy used for a fundraising ride between London and Paris. We put it in the car and went to Arvier, close to Aosta, me, my mum, my dad. What a wicked valley that is. After sleeping there, my father and I rode up the Gran San Bernardo. This is a region where I must return: the Roman ruins in Aosta, the valley leading to the Piccolo San Bernardo, the Hospice at the Gran San Bernardo. That day we rode down and then went all the way to Neuchâtel.

I guess for me home is where my bike is; and my bikes are now spread between Florence, Trento, and Neuchatel.

Great will be your reward…

… in the Kingdom of Heaven

Jean-Thomas; Giallu, Gianni, and Paola; Pietro; Martina; Marco and Leila; Pedro; Dani and Anna; mum and dad; Alberto and Marcantonio; Marco, Francesca, Isabella, and Camilla; Fabio and parents. These are the people who hosted me at their place over the last twelve months.

Value art more than success

Lucerne/Olten, June 26

This morning I hopped on a train. I had decided to spend the entire day roaming randomly from one town to the other, familiarizing to a very Swiss habit: living on a railway. I though of this as the proper opportunity to wish farewell to those things and people that have become part of my life in the last three months, since the moment I first moved here. So I am going to do it now: this is what comes to my mind when I think back of my time here.

Trains, indeed. Switzerland is a country of commuters. Trains here are a bit like the tube: people use them every day, because they are so comfortable, frequent, and fast. And, of course, Swiss cities are on average pretty small, so it’s easy to walk everywhere once you are in the train station. So trains, that’s one thing I will miss. I, myself, traveled to la-Chaux-de-Fonds, Lausanne, Zurich, Bern, Geneve, Lucerne, Interlaken, and a lot of small towns. These were silent, peaceful, and scenic rides. I hope more of them will come in the future.

 

I will remember the army kids in the train stations. They are so many. I guess that is because each male citizen below 35 has the duty to serve for something like three weeks each year. This must be reason why youngsters in their uniforms are a common view in this country. They keep their hands in the pockets and smoke, talk, drink. It is a funny contrast, because their youth and small rebellious acts defy the nature of the uniform they wear.

I will enormously miss the Black Office and regret I did not spend more time there. It is here that I learnt the basics of how to fix a bike and it is also here that I was able to exercise my proto-French without much fear. I have great respect for the idea of helping people to fix their bikes and the sense of community based on good-will I found there.

And then there are all the other small things that are so stereotypical and true: the cows I met during my long rides across Romandie; the watch-makers in La-Locle; the weird blend of languages, which I find somehow exciting; the general sense of hospitality; the rare days of sun on the lake; the local beers, like BFM; the green fields and the mountains, which unfortunately I have not explored; the bizarre monuments in the cities; the Portuguese immigrant community of Neuchatel, providing each morning pastel de nata and coffee; and the counter-cultures, like the anarchism of the Black Office, the bike messengers, the rural communities of Jura, and the urban movements of Zurich.

I will remember fondly the office and the environment that welcomed me there. I got a lot of work done and I like to say that it is because there is not much social distraction in Neuchatel. But this was also because the nccr has provided me with so many resources – it was a genuine pleasure to dig deep into them. Apart from work, many colleagues also proved to be kind friends. Running the risk of not making justice to all, I will remember Marco, Stefanie, Flo, Eva, Valentin, Robin, David, Rorick, and Alice. And, of course, Jean-Thomas, who has done much to integrate me, both professionally and socially. I already knew his attitude; but it is only after these three months together that I have come to know his values and personality. It has been an education.

 

In the end, my most vivid images are those created during my long rides in the countryside of Romandie. Neuchatel was much more alive seen through the lenses of two slim wheels. Perhaps I, myself, am a bit like a bike: balance only comes when I am in motion. So there I go again, off to new uncertain beginnings. Because without them the heights would not feel so great, would they?