A ‘catastrophic consequence’: Fascism’s debate on the legal status of Libyans and the issue of mixed marriages (1938–1939)

Andrea Tarchi

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This article assesses the role that institutional concern for the possibility of interracial marriages played in the Italian Fascist party’s internal debate regarding the legal status of Libyans in the second half of the 1930s. Following the end of the ‘pacification’ of the Libyan resistance in 1932, Governor Italo Balbo pushed for the region’s demographic colonization and the legal inclusion of the colonial territory and its population within the metropole. In contrast, Fascist Party officials in Rome endorsed starker racial segregation in the colonies based on the racist ideology that permeated the regime after the declaration of the empire in 1936. The legal inclusion of Libyans within the metropolitan body politic touched upon the regime’s most sensitive theme: the need to avoid any promiscuity that could interfere with the racial consciousness of Fascist Italy. This article analyses this dispute through the lens of interracial marriage and concubinage regulations, framing it into the definition of a normative standard of Italian whiteness through the racialization of the colonial Other.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
JournalPostcolonial Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2021


This work was supported by the European Research Council as part of the project ‘Regulating Mixed Intimacies in Europe (EUROMIX)’ under Grant number 725238.

FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme725238
European Research Council


    • Colonial Law
    • Mixed marriages
    • Libya
    • Italian colonialism
    • Fascism


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