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Catholic (Anti-)Imperialism. The Italian Catholic press and European expansionism around 1900

States that had been perceived as opponents of Italian independence during the Risorgimento, such as France, were now seen as both competitors for colonial territories and as potential allies in Italy’s own imperial projects; at the same time, the Holy See revived its missionary policy in the colonies. Thus, it is unsurprising that there was a wide spectrum of attitudes among Italian Catholics towards Italian and European expansionism, a diversity that was also reflected in the media.
This project explores Catholic opinions about Italian and European expansionary policy – and the motives underlying such views – through an analysis of Catholic newspapers, missionary periodicals and various related material (such as editors’ notes and correspondence). It particularly focuses on sources that give insight into the Italian reception of non-European events between the Italian-Ethiopian War (1895-1896) and the Italian-Turkish War (1911-1912) in which colonizing nations were involved (especially the Boxer War, the Boer War, the Libya-Campaign).
In the light of the Italian conflict between church and state as well as the emergence of several Catholic organizations (such as the Società Antischiavista Italiana) and the missionary movement, the project will question the motivations behind pro- and anti-colonial arguments and, assuming that the critique of colonialism might have served as a ‘propagandistic expedient’, trace the journey of colonial “news” into catholic media.
In doing so, the project will also explore the extent to which (anti-)imperialistic views were present in the discourses of transnational ‘networks’ and, depending on the project’s eventual main focus, address Catholic-Italian perceptions of Asia and Europe around 1900.