While the ridgeline of the Alps’s ice caps is on the move today, many of the place-names Tolomei imposed remain, and they are likely to outlast the border that the Italian government wanted to imagine into permanence. Taking the long view of Italy’s northernmost boundary from the vantage point of its colonial history shows how this border is, in a way, the opposite of what it appears to be in atlases and Italian textbooks: an arbitrary outer border to a new state, rather than a destined marker for all time. The border seems etched in the mountaintop, but it is as impermanent as other landmarks of nature are, especially those touched by climate change; with it, so too is the symbolic fixity of the nation-state that tied its boundary to the Alpine crests.
Mia Fuller, Associate Professor in Italian Studies at Berkeley, in Laying Claim – Italy’s Internal and External Colonies. Fuller is a cultural anthropologist and urban-architectural historian.