Dreaming in the desert
Libya as Italy’s promised land, 1911–70
in Imperial expectations and realities
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Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, liberal and then Fascist Italy declaimed Libya's virtues. Even the republic born of the Second World War tried very hard to keep hold of the colony after Italy's collapse in North Africa. 'Work' was ever present in the Italian vision of the Libyan El Dorado. Enrico Mattei was expressing far more than disappointment at his country and his company failing to get a piece of the Libyan resources sector. Giovanni Giolitti's 'fatality', what might be termed the Libyan 'El Dorado' myth, was built around three or four correlated and endlessly repeated tropes. Unlike Tunisia, which had a substantial Italian population, for Italians Libya remained something of a mystery. When Muammar Gaddafi came to power the beleaguered Italian farmers still residing in Libya were expelled as representatives of a 'colonial mentality' no longer attuned with the times.

Imperial expectations and realities

El Dorados, utopias and dystopias


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