Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article

Degree

Master of Arts

Program

History

Supervisor

Francine McKenzie

Abstract

This study reconsiders the road to war narrative by focusing on cooperation rather than conflict in Anglo-Italian relations. I link international and imperial historical methods in order to examine British and Italian efforts to cooperate over their clashing interests in empire between 1922 and 1940. By comparing six case studies drawn from British and Italian archives, this thesis explains why the two governments pursued cooperation over empire; how imperial methods facilitated or challenged cooperation; and what this tells us about the global order and the norms that governed it during the interwar years.Three case studies highlight imperial spaces where cooperation was relatively successful and three case studies explore imperial crises which created great challenges for cooperation. British and Italian attempts at cooperation reveal the hybrid nature of international relations during the interwar years combining nineteenth century norms and practices with norms of internationalization embodied by the League of Nations.

Summary for Lay Audience

Many historians have painted the 1920s and 1930s as a steady decline into war as Fascist ideology became increasingly revisionist while the European democracies attempted to enforce the status quo. Anglo-Italian relations during this time have been characterized as an inevitable clash between Fascism and democracy. My thesis project aims to reconsider how we think about global order and the ‘road to war’ by focusing on cooperation instead of conflict. Building on recent trends in international history and studies of empire, my thesis bridges these two bodies of literature in order to explain what Anglo-Italian cooperation at these imperial-international intersections reveals about the global order in the 1920s and 1930s. In this context, cooperation refers to rules, norms, and practices defined bilaterally for the purpose of navigating, mediating, and limiting imperial competition and clashing interests.

My thesis employs a comparative approach to analyze two categories of case studies in British and Italian cooperation over empire: one category examines the Arabian Peninsula, the Palestine Mandate and Malta where Italian imperial ambitions clashed against the established imperial presence of Britain and the other category explores Fascist imperial conquest in Corfu, Abyssinia and Albania, sovereign states which put these cases in the League of Nations’ spotlight. British and Italian attempts at cooperation reveal the hybrid nature of international relations during the interwar years combining nineteenth century norms and practices with norms of internationalization embodied by the League of Nations. These case studies suggest a new interpretation of this so-called interwar period: rather than see it as an interlude between conflicts or a period when international order broke down, we can see a commitment to that order and discern the rules, norms, possibilities and limits of a Eurocentric global order.

Available for download on Monday, August 01, 2022

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