Author: Samuel Agbamu

Abstract

The Mediterranean has occupied a prominent role in the political imaginary of Italian Fascisms, past and present. In the 1920s to the early 1940s, Fascist Italy’s imperial project used the concept of mare nostrum – our sea – taken from the vocabulary of Roman antiquity, to anchor modern Italian imperialism within the authority of the classical past. In the postwar years, following decolonization in Africa, mare nostrum receded from popular discourse, previous claims to the Mediterranean suppressed. However, in the context of the so-called refugee crisis, Italy resurrected mare nostrum, in the naming of its military-humanitarian operation, a move rejected by the contemporary Italian far right. This article argues that configurations of the Mediterranean of ancient Rome have served to yoke Africa to Italy when articulated into a Fascist, imperial ideology, as well as to reify the boundaries between Europe and the non-European other, in the xenophobic discourse of the contemporary Italian far right.

In: Fascism