Colonial environments were designed to be productive, to respond to the local and global logics of modernity, to become instrumental to metropolitan spaces. Such environments thus became negotiated spaces, in which opposite models of the relationship between the human and the natural world compete, one or another prevailing at different times.
This presentation analyses the case study of Libya under Italian rule (1911-1943) and through it the general issue of the sustainability of any colonial project. What is hidden and implied in concepts such as reclamation, improvement and valorisation? How can environmental historians uncover the coloniser’s lexicon and question definitively the approach of modernity? Can environmental historiography contribute to unsettling the belief that European agricultural systems fit all environments?
Given the agricultural and demographic character of Italian colonial rule in Libya, water and land played a major role in shaping imaginaries and realities. The fascist approach to those natural resources coexisted with the indigenous one over three decades but also altered the traditional relation between humans and nature in an irreversible way. Fascist initiatives proved to be environmentally unsustainable, and their only achievement the genocide of Libya’s population and the destruction of its environment.
This seminar is organised by the Environmental Challenges and Climate Change Governance Interdisciplinary Research Cluster.
Please register via the link below by 13 May 2021. Registered participants will receive the Zoom link shortly before the event.