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Accepted Paper:

Between childhood anthropology and juvenile justice: a comparative reflection on Italy  
Marta Quagliuolo

Paper short abstract:

How is the cultural variable used in juvenile courts in Italy? By comparing two contexts (Turin, Reggio Calabria), an attempt will be made to illustrate how cultural variable comes into play to protect different subjects (children of migrants, youngsters of 'ndrangheta).

Paper long abstract:

The youngster's best interest represents the founding principle of juvenile justice at international level. Parental responsibility becomes a Government monopoly when, through the judgment of parents' abilities, a judge has the power to interrupt the biological relationship.

But what is the Italian situation of the relation between juvenile law and culture?

Thanks to the investigation that has been carried out to date, attempts will be made to compare two distant contexts: Turin, in the North of the peninsula, and Reggio Calabria, in the South. Subjects exposed to child protection interventions, in which the cultural variable is often brought into play, have different stories and origins. On the one hand, the question of the culture of immigrant families arriving in Turin, on the other hand, the deviant, marginal, but powerful culture of 'ndrangheta.

In the case of migrant families, the Court judges' "other" educational models, often making a stereotyped use of the cultural variable. Superficial evaluations of facts - which are incoherent when related to reality - are the result of scarce understanding of problems of immigrant families and of a limited investment in supporting parental fragility.

Youngsters of 'ndrangheta are removed from their region of origin because their psycho-physical development appears to be compromised. The judicial measure mentions a "familiar, territorial and social context which is seriously compromised", a "system of values characterized in criminal sense" and a real "cultural difference".

The cultural variable therefore takes on a different value and meaning according to the context in which it's applied.

Panel P156
Law and Culture in Court