The Italian Empire and the Great War

ISBN : 9780198822943

Vanda Wilcox
288 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Jun 2021
The Greater War
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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 built directly on Italian imperial ambitions from the late nineteenth century onwards, and its conquest of Libya in 1911-12. The Italian empire was conceived both as a system of overseas colonies under Italian sovereignty, and as an informal global empire of emigrants; both were mobilized to support 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 fought 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 war effort, as the anti-colonial resistance there linked up with the Ottoman Empire, Germany, and Austria to undermine Italian rule. Italian race theories underpinned this expansionism: the book 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 failures at the Peace Conference meant 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 efforts to resolve the conflicts in Libya, to assess the rhetoric and reality of Italian imperialism.


1 Introduction
2 Imperialism and Irredentism in Liberal Italy
3 From Neutrality to Intervention, 1914-1915
4 Italians on the battlefield
5 Societies at war
6 War in the Italian colonies
7 The war beyond Italy: expeditionary forces and expansionist ambitions
8 Race, nationality, and citizenship: the meanings of italianita in wartime
9 The Paris Peace Conference and Beyond
10 Post-war settlements in the Adriatic and the Balkans
11 Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean after the war
12 Conclusion

About the author: 

Vanda Wilcox is the author of Morale and the Italian Army in the First World War (2016) and editor of Italy in the Era of the Great War (2018). She has taught at John Cabot University and Trinity College, Rome Campus, and most recently at NYU Paris.

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