Pickering-Iazzi – Italian pioneer women

The need to recruit Italian women to colonize Africa after the “leggi razziali” required special strategies.  These women were meant to bring to the colonies the idea of settlement and home.  Very different from American pioneer women who had to face the unknown and many hardships, these women knew where they were going and most often the colonizers were treated to a Camelot where women only had to think of how to enjoy a “vibrant social life of pomp and circumstance” (p.209).  The problem of colonial architecture was to design plans for the colonies which separated the whites from the blacks.  Rava called the geographic separation a preventive measure so there would be no intermingling of the races.  Basically, “reverse ghettos” were created with boundaries to make the separation loud and clear.  Beautiful villa with gardens and servants were to give Italian women a lifestyle they could only dream of back home.  It must have sounded wonderful but I wonder why if 100,000 females enrolled in pre-colonial camps, fewer than 10,000 actually went to Italian East Africa.

The need to create colonial residences was meant to show Italian dominance and superiority but it was also a way to protect colonizers from locals.  The lifestyle offered to Italian colonial women appeared to give them power and make them feel responsible for the well being of the community.  With all of the comforts they were to have, the anxiety of moving to a foreign country was probably not reason enough to leave the homeland and start a new life.

Italian villa in Asmara

American pioneer women