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Call for PapersCitizens and Subjects in the Italian Colonies: Legal Constructions, Social Practices and the International Context (1882-1943)” organized by tthe Department of Social Sciences of the Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, the Department of Historical Studies of the Università degli Studi di Milano, together with the project PRIN-2015 “War and citizenship. Redrawing the boundaries of citizenship in the First World War and its aftermath”.


Naples, 20-21 June 2019


This workshop seeks to bring together scholars of citizenship in the Italian colonial context and aims at inserting the Italian experience in a broad comparative frame.
Colonialism is based not only upon the exclusion of the indigenous people but also – and particularly – on the differential inclusion of those same people. Colonial governments in different moments and with different juridical and administrative tools tried to manage relationships with individuals, social groups and preexisting power in order to impose political order, exploit resources, and legitimize their sovereignty’s claims. In most cases, the colonial governments recognized part of the demands coming from the native society and did not act like a stone-breaker state. The inclusion of the colonial subjects in positions that would certify their subaltern status would supply the administration with an adequate instrument to establish and maintain the colonial domination, building a political space organized according to different rights regimes and degrees of belonging.
The politics of citizenship and subjecthood must be set against this background. For the powers, like Italy, which had it, citizenship was a legal device that defined the relationship between the individual and the state. It was also, on the one hand, a tool to trace clear boundaries between colonizers and colonized people, and on the other an instrument to obtain loyalty and collaboration, generally held elements essential for the good implementation of the colonial administration. The opposition colonizers/dominated people, therefore, is not sufficient to describe the complexity of the colonial environment. In the colonial political space, gray zones, collaboration, negotiation, and subaltern strategies came into play and shaped the politics of citizenship.
The policies of citizenship reflected and embodied the ideas on nation and race that were in play both in the metropole and in the colonial society. In the Italian experience, diverse – and sometimes contrasting – policies of citizenship took place alongside the elaboration of categories, such as that of sudditanza, derived from the French sujétion, and institutions, like the cittadinanza speciale libica.
The workshop seeks to investigate policies of citizenship through the lenses of the international and inter-imperial connections, adopting a comparative approach in the period comprised between the beginnings of the Italian colonial enterprise and its demise. It also intends to pay particular attention to the impact of the WWI on the notion and practices of citizenship in colonial contexts, during the war and in its aftermath.

Organizers invite the submission of papers dealing with the following aspects:

  • the construction of legal categories and their links and interactions with other colonial cases
  • the position of colonial subjects, in connection with racial conceptions
  • the history of the different kinds of ‘special’ colonial citizenship as an intermediate category between the full citizenship and the subjecthood
  • the social and administrative practices of requesting and approving/denying the full citizenship
  • the citizenship’s regimes of women and mixed-blood children
  • the subaltern strategies of belonging
  • the position of colonial settlers and their relationship both with the colonial power and the indigenous people
  • the change of legal and political paradigms between the liberal age and Fascism
  • the status and social practices of minorities in colonial contexts, like for example the Jews in Libya or the Armenians in Ethiopia
  • politics of citizenship in wartime and its aftermath


Deadline is 28 February.

Paper proposals (in English or Italian) of a maximum length of 2.000 characters, accompanied by a short biographical sketch and list of the author’s main publications, should be submitted by mail at

Authors will hear back from the conference organization by 31 March.
The organization will cover travel and accommodation expenses. For travels from non-European countries, funding is limited and determined on a case by case basis.
Scientific Committee:
Simona Berhe (Università degli Studi di Milano)
Daniela L. Caglioti (Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II)
Giacomo Demarchi (Università degli Studi di Milano)
Olindo De Napoli (Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II)

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