Libia 1911: una guerra della modernità?

Translated title of the contribution: [Autom. eng. transl.] Libya 1911: a war of modernity?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


[Autom. eng. transl.] The mythical-symbolic demands of the still young Kingdom of Italy play an important part in the 'public management' of the war for the conquest of the Turkish vilayets of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. In a context of euphoria (even if, in many respects, forced), war is perceived and experienced, by the most aware part of public opinion, as the showcase of the 'new Italy', and this character heavily influences the logic of its storytelling. In this sense, the Libyan war matures and unravels (at least in its initial phases) in an area - explicitly or implicitly - Risorgimento, Savoy and conservative, only partly antagonized, on the one hand, by the impulses of the D'Annunzian brand to an activism essentially aestheticizing, on the other by appeals - paternalistic and, to some extent, populist - of those who hope, through the war and conquest of the mythical 'Fourth shore', the expected awakening of the 'great proletarian'. The care dedicated to the preparation of the expeditionary force and to the planning of military operations, the vast deployment of resources (human and material), the large-scale use of the latest technology contribute, in this perspective, to reinforce the image ( and the character) of war as an essentially 'modern' phenomenon, as a clash, that is, between 'old' and 'new'. This not only between two belligerents who, even at the iconographic level, take on the distinctive traits of this dichotomy, but above all, within the country, between those who, appealing to a rediscovered 'philosophy of action', saw the war as an opportunity to get out of the 'daily gramo' of Giolittian politics and who, on the contrary, in the action of Dronero's politician saw the attempt to revitalize the potential of the liberal state through admission into the political game those that - traditionally - were considered realities and components anti-systemic. Regardless of the concrete results, the Libyan war therefore represents, in this perspective, a periodizing passage in the evolution of national political identity and culture. For its supporters, the war effort constitutes the attestation of the national maturity achieved and the confirmation of its acquired status of great power; in other words, war contributes to nourishing (drawing, from the process, a surplus of legitimacy) the atmosphere of satisfaction and self-satisfaction linked to the completion of the fiftieth anniversary of the national Unity. On the other hand, the political and military difficulties that emerged during the course of the business (largely undervalued during the preparation), the unexpected duration of the hostilities and the widespread frustrations caused by this state of affairs, would have contributed - in the long term and within a framework of exacerbated nationalist sensitivity - to strengthen in the country the same syndromes that the war aimed to cure. Not surprisingly, the most relevant legacy of the conflict appears - in terms of political culture - to be the constant tension between ambitions and achievements, a tension that, at a more general level, is reflected in the ambiguous nostalgia and in the sense of lost opportunity with which it it is watched by the same contemporaries. From a long-term perspective, the relationship of the Libyan war with modernity concerns, therefore, not so much the technical or operational aspect, as the network of expectations that it involves, the way in which it is conveyed and the implications it has on society as a whole. That of Libya is an emphatic, 'lyrical' war, in which rhetoric, to a large extent, rewarded the broad debate around intervention. It also clearly contributes to structuring the Italian vision of international things in a more clear and explicit sense
Translated title of the contribution[Autom. eng. transl.] Libya 1911: a war of modernity?
Original languageItalian
Title of host publicationL'Italia e la guerra di Libia cent'anni dopo
EditorsLuca Micheletta, Andrea Ungari
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Guerra italo-turca (1911-12)
  • Identità nazionale italiana
  • Modernità


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