Imperial fascism : ideology, practice, and transmission in the Mediterranean, 1934-1943
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This study seeks to explore the nature of imperial fascism, particularly those projects carried out by Italian and French fascists and authoritarians in North Africa from 1934 to 1943. In the wake of world war and a worldwide depression, these fascists were mindful of the limitations of the territorial nation-state, and believed that imperial structures would have to be created and maintained in order to protect the sovereignty of their nations. A shared set of ideas about the past and future of the Mediterranean provided French and Italian rightists an ideological opportunity to cooperate, but geopolitical differences and national egoism ensured that each would go their own way. With the failure of the so-called “Latin union”, both the French and Italian rightists sought to convince North Africans that only the far-right could bring about modernity while protecting Islam from secularism and communist atheism. While most North Africans rejected the fascist advances, some responded positively for a variety of reasons, though generally in ways that failed to correspond to the fascist visions of a new geopolitical order. In a bid to show their respect for Islam, fascists also employed several strategies to govern North African Muslims; foremost of these were the attempts to integrate the elites into youth organizations and a greater involvement in supporting Islamic practices in ways that depoliticized religion and linked it to the state. The governing techniques, despite attenuating some critiques of colonialism, did little to stem the growing desire for independence. Furthermore, the fascist rejection of liberal norms and values was unacceptable to most North Africans who hoped to either greatly reform colonial structures or to gain self-determination. Though French and Italians failed to legitimize their imperial projects, studying their attempts highlights the various ways in which fascists adjusted their ideas and practices in order to carry out transnational and imperial politics.