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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 30, 2016

Interpreting Culture in Italian Courts: A Proposal of a “Cultural Test”

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Through a series of analyses of relevant cases – such as Roma begging, genital alterations, and honor killings – this article intends to show the multiple ways in which Italian judges use, and sometimes misuse, the concept of culture. Placing Italy in the broader context of Western democracies, these analyses show the need for more certain standards to fairly assess cultural differences. The aim of this article is to suggest a legal tool to be used by judges when facing multicultural conflicts: a test consisting of a sequence of pre-established reflective questions every judge should answer when legal claims involving cultural rights are at stake. The cultural test proposed here is inspired by similar tests existing on a comparative level, and aims to offer judges a guide so as to avoid the erratic reasoning on cultural matters sometimes deployed in Italian courts.


The research which led to this article was funded under the project “Multiculturalism and Conflicts” by Fondazione Banco di Sardegna (Bank of Sardinia Foundation).

Published Online: 2016-11-30
Published in Print: 2016-11-1

©2016 by De Gruyter

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