Italy's culture of colonialism and the Prima Guerra d'Africa
Title: Italy's culture of colonialism and the Prima Guerra d'Africa
Author: FINALDI, Giuseppe
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2002
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
Italy’s attempt to become a colonial power in the years before the opening o f the twentieth century floundered badly on the battle-field of Adowa. After such great expenditure of resources, both human and material, what was left behind were a few strips of barren land on the edges of the Hom of Africa. These offered very few prospects for the settlement of Italy’s vast “excess population” and were almost bereft of commercial possibilities without investments on a scale Italy could hardly contemplate. But if Ferdinando Martini had been packed off to Eritrea to preserve the colony by making Italy “cease to remember it”, the defeat of Adowa and, more generally, the vicissitudes of the Prima Guerra d ’Africa remained densely embedded in Italian consciousness. It is true that when Martini was asked to send something that could adequately represent Italy’s colonies at the Paris Exhibition of 1900 he sighed bitterly that there was nothing except “delle ossa di morto, dei piani di battaglia sbagliati, o delle lunghe note di somme buttate via” 1, but he could also have added that Italy’s wars in Africa had produced a whole set of iconic images, a data-base of heroic events and memories, that had a significant place in newly united Italy’s self-image and in its quest for the assumption of a vital and central role in a Europe that was abandoning liberal nationalism for expansionism and imperialism. The ideal of La Grande Italia was tight in its Risorgimento guise but the quest for empire in Africa had at least given the Italy of prose some significant moments of poetry.
LC Subject Heading: Italo-Ethiopian War, 1895-1896 -- Influence; Italy -- Colonies -- Africa -- History -- 19th century
Defence date: 24 January 2003; Examining Board: Prof. Nicola Labanca, Università di Siena; Prof. John MacKenzie, University of Lancaster; Prof. Jonathan Morris, University College, London; Prof. Raffaele Romanelli, European University Institute (supervisor)
Published version: http://hdl.handle.net/1814/57404
Published version part: http://hdl.handle.net/1814/16465
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