The leper’s exclusion was a social practice that included first of all a rigorous division, a distancing, a rule of no contact between one individual (or group of individuals) and another. Second, it involved casting these individuals out into a vague, external world beyond the town’s walls, beyond the limits of the community. […] Thirdly, and finally, the exclusion of lepers implied the disqualification – which was perhaps not exactly moral, but in any case juridical and political – of individuals thus excluded and driven out. They entered death, and you know that the exclusion of lepers was regularly accompanied by a kind of funeral ceremony during which individuals who had been declared leprous were declared dead (which meant that their possessions could be passed on) and they departed for the foreign, external world. In short, there were practices of exclusion, of casting out, of ‘marginalisation’ as we would say today. I think we still describe the way in which power is exercised over the mad, criminals, deviants, children, and the poor in these terms. Generally, we describe the effects and mechanisms of the power exercised over these categories as mechanisms and effects of exclusion, disqualification, exile, rejection, deprivation, refusal, and incomprehension.

Michel Foucault, Abnormal. Lectures at the Collège de France 1974–1975 (1999), G. Burchell (trans.), London-New York: Verso, 2003.


Italian citizens are guaranteed by a residence and thus by a passport. Owing to the fact that those citizens are in a ‘community’ like the European Union, it is as if they were shut up in one of the porous ‘cages’ that we were referring to before. The others, the ‘excluded’, are trying to get in to it. The world today is in continual movement. It is an immense mobile machine. We are continually seeing a considerable flow of masses from one part of the world to another, and not just for the Jubilee. The ‘cages’, or ‘niches’, will no longer be able to function nor even to have any reason for existence. I’ve brought with me a pair of ‘binoculars’. This extraordinary optical instrument, consisting of a pair of telescopes joined together, can be used not only to enlarge faraway objects but, if turned the other way round, to increase the focal distance of the object you are looking at and, consequently, its distance. So we ‘privileged’ people are the ones who use the ‘binoculars’ the other way round to look at the new ‘excluded’. That way they seem to us distant, remote. Right now we see them far away, but soon we will have to take the ‘binoculars’ from our eyes in order to look them in the face.

Erri De Luca, in Il Grillo, Rai Educational, transmission of 23 May 2000.



I believe that the horizon of personal diversity has had a strong influence. A diversity that has encountered the hostility not so much of collective culture, as for example the ‘institutional’ one of the PCI (Italian Communist Party), which has harshly discriminated against it. I also think that in the PCI Pasolini saw one of the forms of institutionalised structure in which it was possible to project the image of the Italy of the future, modernised and industrialised and very distant from his personal yearning for another world. Pasolini would never have gone to a Gay Pride parade, for instance, and would not even have called for gay marriage. Today people justly lay claim to these rights and personally I go to Gay Pride events. But all the tension linked to feeling excluded, crucified, has been lost.

Gianni Vattimo, Il Piccolo di Trieste, 8 May 2010.