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Held in Italy shortly after the election of Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative government, the 2001 Group of Eight summit went down in history as the battle of Genoa. From July 20th through July 22nd, the leaders of the eight wealthiest countries in the world conducted their debates inside Genoa’s “red zone:” a militarized citadel at the heart of this city’s downtown. In the meantime, the surrounding “yellow zone” became the theater of a guerrilla warfare and a police and army violence that had few antecedents in recent Italian history. As a state of exception was established in Genoa for the duration of the summit, over a hundred police officers and four hundred protesters were injured, more than three hundred demonstrators were illegally apprehended (and, in some cases, tortured), and one was killed under circumstances that were never fully clarified. This article argues that the events that took place in Genoa were precipitated by the inscription of a political imaginary into a peculiar spatiality: a magic circle where the suspension of normal social life, the crystallization of conservative media narratives, and the spectacularization and militarization of political action enabled the performance of a highly abstract, and yet devastatingly real, social drama featuring the confrontation between righteous selves and their evil foes.


This chapter was published as Guano, Emanuela. Inside the Magic Circle: Conjuring the Terrorist Enemy at the 2001 Group of Eight Summit in Sen, Arijit, and Lisa Silverman. 2014. Making Place: Space and Embodiment in the City. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. No part of this chapter may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or distributed, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photographic, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Indiana University Press. For re-use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center (, 508-744-3350). For all other permissions, please visit

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