Simona Berhe, Olindo De Napoli (eds.), Citizens and Subjects of the Italian Colonies Legal Constructions and Social Practices, 1882–1943 (Routledge 2021)
This is the first book on Italian colonialism that specifically deals with the question of citizenship/subjecthood. Such a topic is crucial for understanding both Italian imperial rule and the complex dynamics of the different colonial societies where several actors, like notables, political leaders, minorities, etc., were involved.
The chapters gathered in the book constitute an unprecedented account of a heterogeneous geographical area. The cases of Eritrea, Libya, Dodecanese, Ethiopia, and Albania confirm that citizenship and subjecthood in the colonial context were ductile political tools, which were structured according to the orientations of the Metropole and the challenges that came from the colonial societies, often swinging between submission, cooptation to the colonial power, and resistance.
On one hand, the book offers an account of the different policies of citizenship implemented in the Italian colonies, in particular the construction of gradated forms of citizenship, the repression and expulsion of dissidents, the systems of endearment of local people and cooptation of the elites, and the racialization of legal status. On the other, it deals with the various answers coming from the local populations in terms of resistance, negotiation, and construction of social identity.