Mauro Piras

Italo Balbo and the colonization of Libya in the French diplomatic correspondence

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In the history of Libya under Italian colonial rule, the years of Italo Balbo's governorship (1934-1940) are generally regarded as a phase of constructive collaboration and good relations between Italians and Libyans, after the harsh repression of the Sanusiyya's resistance, which ended in 1932. Through the analysis of the correspondence of the French consuls in Tripoli and Benghazi with the Quai d'Orsay - a primary source overlooked so far - this paper aims at shedding new light on the history of Balbo's Libya, and at questioning the common view of Balbo as an «enlightened» ruler. French consuls, privileged witnesses of the colony's everyday life, wrote frequent reports about the political situation of Libya, usually taking a critical point of view on fascist colonial policy. In spite of their partiality and subjectivity, their opinions are useful to question the effectiveness of Balbo's «native politics», in improving the life conditions of the Libyans and in changing their attitude towards the Italian government.


  • Italian colonialism - Italo-French relations - fascist policies


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