Fascist Italy’s Mediterranean Empire:
from concepts to practices
International online workshop
Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies
School of History, Politics and International Relations
26-27 May 2021
Organisers: Dr Luca Fenoglio, Dr Alexander Korb, Dr Raul Carstocea
On 9 May 1936 Benito Mussolini proclaimed that Italy had its own (Fascist) Empire in Ethiopia. Six years later, largely due to a victorious Wehrmacht, the Italian Army had occupied large portions of south-eastern Europe, while in North Africa the Axis forces advanced into Egypt. Until the summer of 1943, millions of civilians thus became part of Italian Fascism’s imperial dream to revive the glory of Ancient Rome and thereby turn the Mediterranean Sea into mare nostrum.
This two-day workshop organised by the Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies of the University of Leicester aims to take stock of twenty years of research into Fascist Italy’s expansionism in the Mediterranean and beyond, whilst opening up new ways of thinking about the meanings of New Order and Empire in the history of Italian Fascism both in relation to the regime’s totalitarian thrust and to the larger European history of colonisation and subjugation of non-European populations. Alongside the established research on the ‘fascist era’ of the interwar years, the workshop aims, therefore, to reflect on Fascist Italy’s Empire as a European Empire.
The concepts of Empire, New Order and vital space have become household names for students of Fascist Italy. Davide Rodogno’s path-breaking study of Fascist Italy’s occupation policies in Europe during the Second World War popularised the concept of the Fascist ‘New Mediterranean Order’, ushering in a vast amount of research into the multi-layered reality of Fascist Italy’s occupations in 1940-43. In parallel, a vast cohort of scholars has shed light on the demographic, economic, social, military and cultural dimensions of Italian Fascism’s colonial experience, as well as its aftermath and legacies in popular Italian culture and memory.
This conference aims to bring together these two strands of research and bridge the gap between empirical research and conceptual reflection on Fascist Italy’s colonialism/imperialism.
Some of the questions the workshop aims to address are:
- How did the concepts of Empire and New Order relate and connect to one another, both in theory and practice?
- How did the practices and conceptions of Empire influence one another?
- What is the significance of the Fascist imperial experience in the broader context of European colonialism in the first half of the twentieth century?
- How relevant was the Nazi model for Fascist Italy’s expansionist ambitions after 1940?
- How, if at all, did Italian Fascist notions of Empire and New Order influence other fascist/authoritarian movements in Europe and beyond in the interwar years?
- What was distinctively Fascist – and what was instead distinctively Italian – in Italian Fascism’s project for the New Order?
- How did Fascist racism intersect with other economic, political and geopolitical rationales in the construction of the Fascist New Order?
- What was the role of violence in the construction of the Fascist New Order?
- What role did economic rationales play in Fascist Italy’s imperial aspirations?
- What was the imagined relationship between the African and European sides of the intended Fascist Empire/New Order?
In organising this workshop, we hope to help strengthen existing scholarly networks and forge new ones across countries and historiographic traditions. In this sense, the organisers particularly welcome proposals from scholars from the countries and territories that were affected by the Italian rule.
We invite proposals for twenty-minute papers to be delivered in English. Proposals should be no more than 500 words in length and should include details of the research questions addressed and the material to be presented. Please also include a short biography (max 100 words).
Dr. Paolo Fonzi (Università del Piemonte Orientale) will deliver the keynote lecture, which will then be followed by a response by Professor Davide Rodogno (Graduate Institute in Geneva).
Please send your proposals to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 28 February 2021.
Decisions about acceptance of papers will be communicated by 22 March 2021.
For those who wish to attend the workshop without presenting a paper, we will publish guidelines on how to do so once we finalise the conference programme.
At present, and due to the ongoing pandemic, the two-day workshop is expected to take place online.
The conference is sponsored by Dr Luca Fenoglio’s Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship for the research project ‘A head for a tooth’: Violence in Fascist Italy’s path to a Mediterranean Empire.
Dr Luca Fenoglio
University of Leicester