Michele Sollai

Microcosms of Colonial Development. Italian and Ethiopian Farmers at the Crossroads of Fascist Empire Building (1937-1941)

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Development; Agriculture; Fascism .

The present paper investigates some of the key features and dynamics of colonization and agrarian development in Ethiopia during the Italian occupation. While historiography on the subject has so far privileged the analysis of the military, diplomatic and ideological dimensions of the «Empire», the paper looks at the development of Italian colonization in Ethiopia «on the ground», i.e. from the vantage point of the very lands where Italian rural expansion took place. From this perspective, the paper makes the case for viewing the encounter and interaction with Ethiopian small farming as a significant aspect in the everyday life of Italian colonization projects and agrarian development at large. To this aim, the paper concentrates in the first place on three important «traces» of the relationship between Italian and Ethiopian farmers held in Italian archives. As the paper suggests, the three cases presented here could be regarded as microcosms encapsulating some of the major – yet hitherto neglected – facets of the practice of Italian colonial rule in rural Ethiopia. In the last section, the paper situates these three cases within the broader context of Italian agriculture during the occupation, and provides a general analysis of their dynamics and implications.

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