Citizenship and Belonging
In a world in which 65 million people are constantly on the move, seeking a place to live and to which they can belong, what does citizenship mean in the contemporary context as a legal fiction that is increasingly a flashpoint of nativist reaction, xenophobic legislation, and redefined ideas of who belongs where? But a fluid multi-cultural and polyglot situation is hardly something new. Venice, a city built in-between land and sea, has always been a liminal place where multiple interlocking and fluid identities and communities have been formed, experimented with, and solidified. Venice has always “welcomed,” albeit in very controlled and often self-serving ways, diverse communities into its social structures and physical spaces. What can we learn from this history and from the contemporary experiences of all manner of “Venetians” residing in and visiting the city today about segregation and interaction, of localized and international bonds between competing economies of trade and belonging, commerce and identity? Goods and persons flooded the maritime city, profoundly affecting the way in which people ate, spoke, worshipped, and understood the past.
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