“Damages Caused by the Italian Fascist Colonization of Libya”

While reading the article “Damages Caused by the Italian Fascist Colonization of Libya” by Muhammad T. Jerary I was reminded of the statue in Libya that the Italians took from Libya as a token of pride and ownership and then the return of the statue to Libya much after Libya’s independence was granted to them. When we first learned about the statue and watched the video on YouTube of it being returned to Italy I thought of how much the statue really symbolized. To me it symbolized everything that Jerary mentions in his article: genocide, “crimes of destruction of people and their environment”, “forced exile and emigration”, and “crimes of moral and cultural destruction”. The returning of the token to Libya is an apology and a kind of gesture of returning the history of all the the crimes back to Libya. Even though it was mentioned that this token was not really important to Libya, it was the symbolic nature of the statue that made it important.

Comments of M.T. Jerary, “Damages…” Article

This article was an interesting look into historiography. The study of how people write history and “do” history is something that I have really been focusing on since delcaring my history major and I found most puzzling about this article is that I found it a little hypocritical. Although Jerary does say that he is trying to be, “successful in reflecting the Libyan perspective on fascist colonization of Libya” (207), he says earlier that his goal is to “study carefully the colonial period from beginning to end, studying and documenting all aspects of the Libyan-Italian experience with the utmost precision and objectivity” (203).  What I found was that this chapter became a laundry list of the atrocities and vicious acts that the Italians carried out on the Libyans. What was more distrubing was this article just gave the Libyan side of the story and the “Italians feelings of aggression and guilt” (203) were never addressed or mentioned later in the chapter. Overall, very interesting, but hypocritical and a biased historiographical piece of writing. Will definitely bring it up tomorrow when i present of oral histories and other such whatnot.

Center For Libyan Studies in Tripoli, Libya

Empty Spaces

It is interesting to note that propaganda about the Italian colonies was emphasized in terms of space (endless territories) that were to be used to solve the immigrant problem. Part of the failure to study decolonization in Italy was the fact that colonialism was equated to fascism and with the end of fascism, attention was directed towards westernizing in the American model. With the economic boom of the 50’s and 60’s all attention was placed on creating new spaces to be “colonized”, namely rural Italy close to large cities in need of housing.

EUR is a good example of the displacement of a colonial project (a reflection of what Italy planed to achieve in its colonies) which has become a “space” for offices, government  buildings and residential developments. The article by Pinkus describes Antonioni’s film L’eclisse and the character of Vittoria as part of a generation that may have internalized fascist racial ideals. The film is set in the EUR, a “virtually and spiritually empty” space. The transfer of colonial planning to the “new colonies” of the EUR, as Pinkus states, is a process of forgetting and not reflecting on the past.

Aerial view of EUR in 1953                          EUR today



Thoughts on decolonialization in Libya

Decolonialization has always been a difficult topic to cover. I remember discussing it last semester in my British history class. One of the topics we discussed was the relationship between Great Britain and India. India was left in a high state of confusion which in the end hurt the country. Here, it seems to be the same case with Italy and Libya. Both sides felt the effects of decolonialization, as Jerary states, “This inherited resentment takes the form among Libyans of a right to revenge and among the Italians of feelings of aggression and guilt.”

Today, there are still effects felt from the decolonialization. While reading this article, I could not help but think back to the article we read before on the returning of the obelisk and how Italy kept it for so long. I enjoyed reading about the findings of the Libyan Studies Center and how people felt then as well as today with regards to how they were treated by the Italians but also as to what they should do today. Compensation for all of the crimes committed by the Italians to the Libyans would be nice but I cannot imagine calculating the price for all that was lost, including the lives of many.

I also enjoyed the metaphor of the eclipse with decolonialization in the second article. My favorite part of the metaphor was the idea that “one can never say when an eclipse truly begins or ends. It is essentially ambiguous and defies perceptual certainty.”  One could say that colonialism ends with the colonizing country leaving its colonies however, the effects of colonialism are still there in the displacement of their culture as well as in the destruction of lives and land. It is never truly certain when it ends. Italy did not even apologize for colonialism until 1999, which was years after they left. This was perhaps my favorite part of the entire article.

Here is an image of the scene described in the beginning of the article. Pinkus connects the emptiness of this scene to that of decolonialization.

Margot’s Post on Lucia Re’s article


I loved this article! It discussed all of the things that interest me about Italian Colonialism: the way colonialism played into race relations inItalyand the treatment and view of women.

One of my favorite lines from the article was “Woman is more primitive and less evolved than man because she has remained essentially the captive of her physical instincts and body, “schiavadelsuo sesso,” and thus still incapable of thinking abstractly.” So this was the view of the Fascist leading men, and then women who called themselves feminist women, started siding with these men.

Later on in the article, Re talks about the way Sibilla Aleramo set aside her feminist ambitions to support the war inLibya. On page 22 Re argues that Aleramo supported the southern question because of the way she describes southern men as weak, and excessively sexual. “What is striking about Aleramo’s novel is the way in which this radicalization of the South coexists with the author’s explicit feminism and socialism.”

In section 7 of the article, Re talks about feminist women becoming fascists, she refers to “Fascist feminism in the 1920s.” To me, that sounds like a contradiction. How can a feminist be fascist? How could a woman like Teresa Labriola who was once a leading suffragist say that “the woman’s true and higher mission was to embrace their racial role as mothers and be entirely devoted to the future of the Italian stripe and nation.

Italians (and Everyone Else) and the Invention of Race

What struck me about this article’s discussion of the formation of racial ideas in Italy was how similar that narrative is to our own in the United States, and to almost every other narrative of race formation that I am familiar with. Though exact details and important figures and events differ, the story is almost the same. Racism as a catalyst for unification, the interconnectivity of race and gender roles, and the concept of race as something that does not exist alone, but exists only in opposition to a weakly defined “other” – none of these ideas or themes are new.

However, something that didn’t ring quite as familiar was the heavy reliance on literature to help construct the racial narrative. Poets and authors such as Marinetti, Morasso, and d’Annunzio played a much larger role in crafting the idea of what it means to be Italian than I have seen in any other culture, and I think that, in a way, that is due to the fact that a huge part of Italianness was the artistic culture.

I also thought the idea of the Italian “inferiority complex” contributing to Italian racism was interesting, but it had actually been something that I had been thinking about as well. In order to assert themselves as being on the same level as other Europeans, Italians had to define themselves in opposition to someone “worse.”

Lucia Re

What I appreciated most about this article was the evidence used to support most of the arguments Re made. For example, in the section of Race and Identity, Re’s Argues that the libya campaign was the first racist war and it’s consensus was the result of literary creations.  Her support was the article “L’ora virile” in Il Marzocco which asked women to sacrifice for the unity of Italy. In regards to this topic of sacrific, I found the sentence “by adhering to the unifying notion of a collective identity that necessarily sets the Italian ‘race’ in opposition to other races, women and, as we shall see, other disenfranchised or alienated groups ‘discover’ … An imaginary sense of belonging and commonality that makes the lack of equal political rights, and even the principle of representation, seem secondary and unimportant.” I appreciate the acknowledgement of the lack of resistance from Italian women regarding their gender role. I feel as thought other articles we’ve read have not articulated this lack of participation so concisely.

My favorite moment in the article, however, which was also highly supported, was the resistance of Arab and Berber fighters who retaliated against Italian troops for their sexual abuses against women. Furthermore, I appreciate how this ultimately created n sense of unity for the Libyans and began the process of developing their national identity.

Ultimately, I just found the ability to support her arguments with facts to be the best part of this artiicle. I feel as though so many of our previous articles are highly opintionated and have comparatively low evidence, which helped me understand some of the origins for the  misunderstood or overlooked “contradictions” in our previous articles.

Italians and the invention of race (Lucia Re)


I liked this article very much (it seems like most of us did). The part on race studies  was the most interesting for me. A number of scientists helped shape the way race was represented. Lombroso’s “L’uomo bianco e l’uomo di colore was probably one of the most influential and gave a pseudo-scientific explanation for the superiority of whites. I found this link which is really interesting.  As I glanced through the pages I read a part in which he states that even the blood of blacks is different. He says that it coagulated immediately when drawn. Anthropologists today know that race is a social construct and that it’s impossible to determine a person’s “race” by blood or tissue samples.

I find it paradoxical that northern Europeans viewed Italians with the same prejudice that they used towards the Africans.  Sibilla Aleramo reference to Ferrero’s book in her novel Una donna surprised me.  In Prof. McMenamin’s class we read chapters of this book.  If the southern man who raped her was a different race (quasi orientale – keeping women secluded harem-style) it was her northern father who forced her to marry him. She was very attached to her father and her education was rather liberal for the day, as a matter of fact she was the first Italian woman to leave her husband and her son.

An excellent article that I will save and do research on many of the people she mentioned!

Link to digital copy of Lombroso’s book:


Italians and the Invention of Race

I really enjoyed this article, though I did find it to be extensive and, at times, a little repetitive. It focuses on many areas on which our past readings have focused. Those that stuck out in particular to me were those of the development of gender roles, specifically the role of women and their position of subordination to men. I also thought that it was really interesting the way in which the author describes this desperate attempt to define and enforce a national and racial Italian identity. It is interesting how important it was to have a racial and national identity with which Italians could connect, even at the cost of the racism it encouraged.

I really like that the author connects these themes and analyzes them with the use of examples in literature. I also found section 4 very interesting. The author goes in depth to explain the way in which religion had a place in the process of colonization, and how the racial and social segregations that defined their colonization in Africa came to include religious segregation.

Lucia Re Article

I really liked this article because it was seemed to me to be a culmination of the entire course and what we had talked about in relation to Italian colonialism. One part I found particularly interesting was the poems by d’Annunzio, “Canzoni d’Oltremare.” The “Canzone del sangue” caught my attention because of its religious imagery and the relationship to justifying Italian cruelty and torture of Arabs as a Holy War. These poems were published on the front page of one of the most important news papers in Italy, were interesting as propaganda because I had researched and studied propaganda for children earlier with Mical. This section also likens the Italian Colonization to the Crusades, by uniting the Arabs and Turks as infidels and heathens of against Italy. Very interesting considering I am also in a history of the Crusades class. Overall a very interesting article. Though very long.