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Soldiers as Urbanisers. Ascaris and the shaping of Urban Culture in Colonial Eritrea

By Uoldelul Chelati Dirar


Aim of this article is to discuss the contribution of colonial troop to the process of a urban culture in Eritrea under Italian colonial rule, between 1890 and 1941. Through this paper I will discuss the nature and extent of the interaction between colonial urban planning and Eritrean society with the aim of shedding light on the role played by the Eritrean agency. I will analyse how this interaction has reshaped the Eritrean social and economic landscape. Urban history of colonial Eritrea offers a privileged perspective to study the development of the colonial milieu where colonial soldiers- better known as ascari- played a major role as builders of both social and territorial urban spaces. Moreover, urban history remains crucial to understand postcolonial Eritrea, where urban identity, often, seems to compound the very essence of Eritrean identity. This development calls for a deeper and dispassionate analysis of the overlapping and, sometime, contradictory meanings that urban identities assume in contemporary Eritrea. To this end, the conclusive remarks of my paper will address some of the most recent tendencies in the nation-building strategies of independent Eritrea in which urban identities appear to play a major role in the politics of heritage promoted by the Eritrean government

Topics: Colonialismo italiano, Eritrea, Truppe coloniali, Nazionalismo, Identità post-coloniali
Year: 2017
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