Fascist Colonialism

The archaeology of Italian outposts in western Ethiopia (1936-1941).   

The archaeology of colonialism has grown exponentially during the last decade (e.g. Lyons and Papadopoulos, 2002; Stein, 2005; Van Dommelen, 2006). This growth has gone hand in hand with the development of post colonial theory in the social sciences. Post-medieval colonialism in particular has attracted enormous interest, due to its global character, the great diversity of cultural encounters, the richness and variety of data, and its decisive influence in shaping our present world (Orser, 1996; Hall, 2000). However, a large number of archaeological studies focus on early modern colonialism. Research on the second wave of European colonialism (from the 1870s onwards) is scarcer and the twentieth century is seldom considered (but see Hall, 2000; Lucas, 2005). Another line of research that is witnessing a remarkable growth is the archaeology of contemporary conflicts. War, class struggle, political repression, dictatorship, and genocide are some of the topics studied by this kind of archaeology (Schofield et al.,2002).

Strangely enough, fascism has been overlooked so far—although a PhD thesis on the topic is nearing completion (Samuels, forthcoming). Archaeologists have focused on doing a critical historiography of the discipline under fascism (e.g. Munzi, 2004), but have mostly ignored the important role played by material culture in the construction of fascist society—including design, urbanism, industrial technology, monuments, archaeological remains, and landscape (see Lo Sardo, 1997; Munzi, 2004; Pizzi, 2005;Fuller, 2007).

In this article, I intend to draw attention to those two exciting fields of research—20th century colonialism and fascism. The aim is to explore some possibilities offered by the study of Italian imperialism from the point of view of material culture and to show the intersections with other areas of historical archaeology. An archaeology of fascist colonialism can contribute with relevant data to understand some of the central concerns of the discipline, including issues of identity, race, ethnicity, power, domination and resistance (Lawrence and Shepherd, 2006), as well as the "four haunts"of historical archaeology, as proposed by Charles Orser (1996, pp. 57-88): globalcolonialism, Eurocentrism, capitalism, and modernity.

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Author: Alfredo González-Ruibal

Article and Image Source: http://digital.csic.es

Keywords: Fascism,Colonialism,Africa,Fortifications,Urbanism,Architecture


Alfredo González-Ruibal

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