Racial Hierarchies in Colonial Eritrea

Giulia Barrera outlines the racial and social hierarchy in the Italian colonies of Eritrea. I deduced that the hierarchy was as follows: Italian government, Italian colonizers, the colonized. The government “ruled their own [Italian] citizens ‘with an iron fist’,” (97) and the colonizers, obviously, were superior over the colonized both by, nature (as Maria suggests) and through power.

Barrera does not fail to mention Italian pitfalls such as begging from concubines, sometimes stealing from the Eritreans, and abusing the locals: all things that were non-prestigious and therefore considered not a good representation of “European prestige”. In discussing European prestige I found Barrera’s account of the Austrian biting an Eritrean to be nothing short of amusing in an ironic way.Barrera states on page 92,

“Without seeing the irony in talking about “European prestige” when Europeans went around biting Africans…”

I found this particularly ironic because Governer Baratieri claimed that the Eritreans had “‘lower moral standards’ (sentimento morale inferiore)” (91), which is apparently untrue.

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