ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

Friday 12 March 2021

BOOK: Amanda WILCOX, The Italian Empire and the Great War (Oxford: OUP, 2021), 288 p. ISBN 9780198822943, € 38,14


(image source: Blackwells)

Book abstract:
The Italian Empire and the Great War brings an imperial and colonial perspective to the Italian experience of the First World War. Italy's decision for war in 1915 is contextualised in light of Italian imperial ambitions from the late nineteenth century onwards, and its conquest of Libya in 1911-12. The Italian empire was conceived both in conventional terms as a system of settlement or exploitation colonies under Italian sovereignty, and as an informal global empire of emigrants; both were mobilised in support of the war in 1915-18. The war was designed to bring about 'a greater Italy' both literally and metaphorically. In pursuit of global status, Italy endeavoured to fight a global war, sending troops to the Balkans, Russia, and the Middle East, though with limited results. Italy's newest colony, Libya, was also a theatre of the Italian war effort, as the anticolonial resistance there linked up with the Ottoman Empire, Germany, and Austria to undermine Italian rule. Italian race theories underpinned this expansionism: Vanda Wilcox examines how Italian constructions of whiteness and racial superiority informed a colonial approach to military occupation in Europe as well as the conduct of its campaigns in Africa. After the war, Italy's fate at the Peace Conference is examined in an imperial framework to show that the 'mutilated victory' was an imperial as well as a national sentiment. Events in Paris are analysed alongside the military occupations in the Balkans and Asia Minor as well as the efforts to resolve the conflicts in Libya, to assess the rhetoric and reality of Italian imperialism.

(source: Blackwells