The article analyses the political institutional patterns between Italy and Latin America through a study of South American dual nationals who retain full political rights in Italy. It adopts a socio-historical approach to study the genesis, evolution and consequences of Italy’s external citizenship policies, assessing their impact on the transnational political activities of “Latin American Italians”. It identifies the outputs and outcomes from the transnational political practices of “Latin American Italians”, both in Italy and the countries of residence, if and how these have created overlapping polities, affected the conception of membership, and challenged the definition of “home” and “host” country. The findings are based on over one year of field research, including interviews with key actors in Argentina, Uruguay, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom; in-depth interviews with seventy-four Latin Americans who had recently obtained their Italian citizenship by descent; and a statistical analysis.
The article concludes that the current rise of transnational institutions linking sending and receiving countries does not totally break with the past. The strategic use of European nationality laws influences political participation of Latin American Italians in a limited way, and when a transnational political engagement does occur, it produces a disjunction between politics and territory more in terms of a re-territorialization than of a de-territorialization of political practices. Thus, this article supports the hypothesis of strengths and weaknesses of the transnational approach to analyse migrant’s political activities.