late 1800s

At the end of the 19th century, a few years after the unification of the peninsula, Italy also embarked on the path of colonial aggression against the world.

Although late and of shorter duration compared to that of other European powers, Italian colonialism revived and even exasperated the idea of the necessary civilising mission. It was characterised by the exploitation of people, local resources and an often indiscriminate use of violence that even resulted in war crimes.

Having lost its colonies during the Second World War, for decades Italian colonialism was a theme removed from public debate and on which narratives were constructed to distort the historical experience, such as the spread of the myth of the ‘Italians good people’.

In recent decades, however, historiography has recovered the theme and developed many strands of research. A greater awareness of the history of Italian colonialism is necessary to know our recent past and to understand the dynamics of our present.

The project “Italian Colonialism. Aware memories” was conceived and promoted by the Committee for the History and Memories of the 20th Century of the Municipality of Modena, “Moxa – Modena for others”, the Colonial Memories Documentation Centre, the Historical Institute of Modena, the Civic Museum of Modena and the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. The project aims to help people not to forget the violence and crimes that marked Italian colonialism and to tackle an aspect that is still little present in historical research: the resistance that the local population put up against the Italian occupiers.

The initiatives include in-depth seminars, urban trekking and visits to the ethnological collections of the Civic Museum, and finally the installation of an explanatory panel at the entrance to the Dogali swimming pool.

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